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A new heart from a printer

The emergence of 3D bioprinting might not only eliminate the need for animal testing in the cosmetic industry, it might also disrupt the field of regenerative medicine. A Nordic team is leading the way.

3D printing technology is rapidly developing and the things you can print is no longer limited to objects. A Nordic consortium has developed a new kind of ink for bioprinting, the ability to 3D print biological material like human skin, and in the future, maybe human organs. The technology is expected to revolutionise and disrupt the field of tissue engineering and regenerative medicine. Now, a Nordic consortium have developed a new kind of bioink that can be used together with a 3D printer to print biological material like human skin.

Project leader, professor Paul Gatenholm from Advanced Polymer Technology, explains: “We are developing a bioink that can print human skin models for the cosmetic industry to test their products. They are very interested, since it eliminates the need for animal testing.”

Gatenholm says they already have made contact with several large cosmetic companies and that they will start selling the bioink through a startup called CELLINK within half a year.

The bioink is made by combining nanocellulose derived from Finnish forests by Stora Enso with alginate isolated from Norwegian seaweed by NovaMatrix, which is then processed into printable ink by Advanced Polymer Technology in Sweden. Then the ink is mixed with human cells and printed with a 3D bioprinter.

“We are very excited and it has been a fantastic project. We are becoming leaders in bioprinting,” says Gatenholm.

So far, Gatenholm and the project team will focus on producing bioink for printing skin models for the cosmetic industry. However, he sees great potential in the technology. One of the applications is to deliver stem cells in 3D bioprinted constructs for treatment of wound healing or cancer or possible osteoarthritis. Plastic surgeons could use 3D Bioprinting for repairing soft tissue and skin. Other surgeons could use it for printing functional human organs – which could have a huge impact considering that we are growing ever older.

“Printing organs is complex, but not impossible. It will happen. But I can’t tell when,” says the enthusiastic professor.

The project, called VIKINK, is funded by Nordic Innovation through the Nordic Solved funding platform, and will finish in December 2016.

Source: Norden

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