Advances in medical technology and donation, although very visible. But the demand for donor organs, eyes and tissues are still much higher than the number of donors. What sounds like a dream about the future has already been the subject of research for several years: just print tissues and organs. German researchers have developed new gelatin bio-inks that can be used in 3D printing technology for the production of artificial fabrics.
3D printing and human organs
Researchers from the Fraunhofer Institute (Stuttgart, Germany), engaged in research in the field of engineering and Biotechnology (IGB), have succeeded in developing suitable bio-inks for 3D printing. It consists of a natural (tissue) matrix and living cells. The substance is made on the basis of well-known biological material – gelatin. Gelatin is obtained from collagen, the main component of tissue. Researchers have chemically modified the gel-forming ability of gelatin in biological molecules for printing in such a way that bio-ink remains liquid during printing. After the bio-ink is irradiated with ultraviolet light, they solidify to form hydrogels.
These polymers contain a huge amount of water (like a real fabric), but they are stable in the aqueous medium. When heated to a physiological temperature of 37 ° C (98.6 degrees Fahrenheit) – the average temperature of the human body. Scientists can monitor chemical modifications of biological molecules. So that as a result, gels have different advantages and swelling characteristics. Therefore, the properties of natural tissue can be imitated – from solid cartilage to soft fatty tissue.
A major problem at the moment is the creation of a vascularized tissue that has its own system of blood vessels through which tissues will be supplied with nutrients. IGB works on this together with other partners within the project ArtiVasc 3D, with the support of the United Nation. To develop a technological platform for creating small blood vessels from synthetic materials to create the artificial skin with the subcutaneous adipose tissue.
This step is very important for the printing of tissues or whole organs in the future. There is only one time to succeed in the production of tissues that can be fed through the system of blood vessels and we can print larger tissue structures.