Using a tiny desktop-sized 3D printer researchers have created a method to print gummy scaffolding to assist in regenerating nerve cells that could be used in the human body. The printer looks like a toaster oven with the front and sides removed.
Its metal frame is built up around a stainless steel circle lit by an ultraviolet light. Stainless steel hydraulics and thin black tubes line the back edge, which lead to an inner, topside box made of red plastic. In front, the metal is etched with the red Bio Bot logo. All together, the gray metal frame is small enough to fit on top of a desk – and it has very real medical applications.
Researchers at Michigan Technological University hope to use this 3D bioprinter to make synthesised nerve tissue. The key is developing the right “bioink” or printable tissue. The nanotechnology-inspired material could help regenerate damaged nerves for patients with spinal cord injuries, says Tolou Shokuhfar, an assistant professor at Michigan Tech.
In the bioprinting research, Shokuhfar collaborates with Reza Shahbazian-Yassar, who has a highly interdisciplinary background on cellulose nanocrystals as biomaterials that helped inspire the lab’s new 3D printing research. “Cellulose nanocrystals with extremely good mechanical properties are highly desirable for bioprinting of scaffolds that can be used for live tissues,” says Shahbazian-Yassar. … (read more)