There is tremendous progress being made within the area of 3D bioprinting. In fact, there are companies working to print human organs as we speak, and within the next decade such organs may, if we are lucky, be available for human transplantation. With that said we still are a ways away from such an accomplishment.
There are multiple obstacles researchers must first overcome. When considering the organ printing space in general, the printing of complicated vascular networks is the main obstacle currently preventing progress. On the other hand, when printing cellular musculoskeletal tissues the main obstacle in this space is actually the lack of strength inherent in hydrogels.
Hydrogels currently in use are unable to meet the biological and mechanical requirements for the printing of numerous human tissues. That’s until recently. In a recent article published on Nature Communications on April 28, called ‘Reinforcement of hydrogels using three-dimensionally printed microfibers,‘ researchers at Queensland University of Technology, in Brisbane, Australia, figured out a viable method of creating far more robust and stiff hydrogels.
The researchers — Jetze Visser, Ferry P.W. Melchels, June E. Jeon, Erik M. van Bussel, Laura S. Kimpton, Helen M. Byrne, Wouter J.A. Dhert, Paul D. Dalton, Dietmar W. Hutmacher, and Jos Malda — found that by using a new 3D printed high-porosity microfiber technique, they could increase the stiffness of a hydrogel/scaffold composite by up to 54x, while maintaining an elasticity similar to human tissue. … (read more)