3D printers are opening up new opportunities in medicine too. A group of researchers in a team led by Marcy Zenobi-Wong is printing cartilage transplants using the body’s own cells. They are personalised and grow with the patient.
Bioprinting, 3D printing with cellular materials, is currently well on the way to becoming the next big thing in personalised medicine. In the laboratory of the Cartilage Engineering and Regeneration group at the Department of Health Sciences and Technology Matti Kesti presents the latest results of their research: a bowl filled with nutrient solution contains murky white cartilage forming a nose and miniature ear. The doctoral student created both of these from a mix of biopolymers and living cartilage cells using the laboratory’s own bioprinter, a 3D printer for biological materials.
This remarkable printer is as big as a laboratory hood and at first glance resembles a protected extraction device in the laboratory. The heart of the system is a wheel with eight syringes that can all be filled with a different suspension. Using a computer outside the lockable printer, the pistons of the syringes are controlled using digital data from a three-dimensional model. The suspension is then ejected from the syringe nozzle at the highest level of precision and a random structure is created on a platform below, which whizzes to and from at rapid speed, using the layering method. This method can be used to create structures such as a joint cartilage or a nose cartilage, which the bioprinter takes just 16 minutes to create. … (read more)