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On the Road to Taking Bioprinting to Preclinical and Clinical Applications

by Elizabeth Hofheinz, M.P.H., M.Ed.

Engineering researchers from Texas A&M University are furthering the move toward patient-specific 3D constructs. Their recent research, “Nanoengineered Osteoinductive Bioink for 3D Bioprinting Bone Tissue,” appears in the April 8, 2020 edition of ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces.

Co-author Akhilesh K. Gaharwar, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Texas A&M University. He told OSN, “We have designed a highly printable and bioactive ink that can be used to create full-scale patient-specific customized implants using a patient’s CT scans. Patients suffering from arthritis, bone fractures, dental infections and craniofacial defects will benefit from this new technology.”

Known as a nanoengineered ionic covalent entanglement (NICE) bioink formulation for 3D bone bioprinting, according to the authors the NICE bioinks “allow precise control over printability, mechanical properties, and degradation characteristics, enabling custom 3D fabrication of mechanically resilient, cellularized structures.”

“We demonstrate cell-induced remodeling of 3D bioprinted scaffolds over 60 days, demonstrating deposition of nascent extracellular matrix proteins. Interestingly, the bioprinted constructs induce endochondral differentiation of encapsulated human mesenchymal stem cells (hMSCs) in the absence of osteoinducing agent. Using next-generation transcriptome sequencing (RNA-seq) technology, we establish the role of nanosilicates, a bioactive component of NICE bioink, to stimulate endochondral differentiation at the transcriptome level.”

Dr. Gaharwar told OSN, “One of our most important results is the development of bone-like tissue by encapsulating human stem cells within 3D bioprinted scaffolds. Soon after the bioprinting, the encapsulated cells start depositing new proteins rich extracellular matrix that subsequently calcifies to form a mineralized bone over a three-month period. Almost 5 percent of these printed scaffolds consisted of calcium, which is similar to cancellous bone, the network of spongy tissue typically found in vertebral bones.”

“To translate bioprinting technology to preclinical and clinical applications, 3D printed structure should not only mimic the anatomical shape of defect but should also replicate tissue‐specific functions. We need to combine knowledge from basic biology and merge with advanced fabrication technology such as 3D printing to design next-generation medical technologies.”

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Elizabeth Hofheinz

Two time winner of the MORE award Ms. Hofheinz was the first writer employed by Orthopedics This Week. The MORE award is granted annually by the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons to recognize excellence in journalism. Ms. Hofheinz is currently the Director of Communications for Ortho Spine Partners (OSP).

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