I know I just wrote that functioning 3D printing organs are still very far down the road but that does not at all mean that top notch scientists are not already working on it, to define the procedures that will one day allow us to 3D biofabricate them. If you thought 3D printing technologies were varied and somewhat confusing, that is nothing compared to 3D bioprinting technologies and I have never heard someone speak with such an in-depth comprehension of them as Dr Dong-Woo Cho from Postech University in South Korea.
Dr Cho participated as a speaker in Dr. Malda’s 3D bioprinting course at Utrech Universiyt and presented the activities he is carrying out as advisor and leading figure of the Intelligent Manufacturing Systems Lab at Postech Univerisity, one of the top tech universities in the world. In a short speech he tried to outline everything his laboratory has been focusing on but covering every aspect resulted in even more complexity than the actual bioprinting processes as Dr Cho implements every single 3D biofabrication technology in his work.
As I understand it, his team begins by applying injection based deposition systems to develop the framework of the biological tissue using different synthetic biomaterials. They then add nano fibers (by chemical electro-spinning) and move on to the cell printing system, which applies different hydrogels and growth factors. This 3D structure is then inserted into a bioreactor to grow into different organic tissues including skin, cartilage, blood vessels, pancreas, bone and liver.
So which are the 3D bioprinting technologies used at IMS? If you think it’s just one your are so far off. In fact most of the technologies are variations of stereolithography and they are used primarily for scaffolding. They include:[imagebrowser id=177 template]
All of the cell 3D printing technologies need to work together with engineering analysis and CAD design of the structures, then need to be combined with bio-environment mimetic technologies (i.e. the bioreactor) to develop integrative pre-tissues, which can then be used for verification of possible regenerative capabilities.
This pretty much combines the entire 3D bioprinting knowledge we (as humanity) have accumulated so far. But new ideas and new applications emerge every day in every part of the world. To collect them all in one place, Postech is holding the upcoming International Conference on Biofabrication in Pohanf next September 28th to October 1st. Dr Dong-Woo Cho is chair of the conference and that alone is a good reason to attend.