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New bio-ink boosts 3D-bioprinting potential

A team of researchers, who brought the cutting edge technology of a new type bio-ink for 3D printing from concept to reality, are excited as it has already achieved sales within its first week on the market.

According to a recent report, bio-inks are gel-like substances that carry human living or stem cells and degrade over time in the body to help regenerate damage or diseased tissues.

This unique light-activated gel offers new potential for 3D-bioprinting of living cells to make functional tissue.

This development has a significant potential in the fields of medicine and science.

The inventor from University of Otago, New Zealand shared that what they have developed is an initiator system that uses visible light such as that from a standard mobile-phone torch to initiate polymerisation reactions.

If, for instance, they wanted to print living cells to make tissue, the bio-ink will help cell survival as compared to other polymerisation methods such as UV light or heat.

The inventor is a polymer chemist and member of the Christchurch Regenerative Medicine and Tissue Engineering (CReaTE) Group. CReaTE is part of the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery at the University.

The new bio-ink that his team invented is especially good at increasing cell viability when cells are printed.

Varieties of hydrogels and cells, including stem cells, were used to test the inventions.

The results revealed that cells printed in hydrogels cured with visible light showed new tissue growth, new blood vessel formation and mineralised bone two weeks after printing.

The team is currently photo-crosslinking unmodified Type 1 collagen, silk fibroin and gelatin using a cell phone torch, in the lab.

The University’s bio-ink is aiming for clinical applications in the future.

This technology might one day play its part in the future of orthopaedic surgery. In the interim, the team is delighted that colleagues can soon work with some of the bio-inks in their own research.

The Otago Innovation licenced access to patent rights and know-how to the Californian company, Advanced BioMatrix.

The first product of the American company that is related to the invention is the visible light photo-initiator system Ruthenium that researchers can use in conjunction with methacrylated materials such as GelMA.

The company sells high quality and easy-to-use products for 3-Dimensional applications to research customers. Researchers have begun accessing the invention via the company.

The sales of global bio-ink in 2016 reached US$ 70 million, and are estimated to double by 2021.

Meanwhile, the young clinical bio-printing market has a forecast value of over US$ 1 billion.

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