February 24, 2007
Inkjet Tissue Engineering Technique Advances

As long time readers know, a recurring theme on FuturePundit is that the use of computer industry technologies to perform biological manipulations will make biotechnology increasingly advance at the rate of computer technology. We all know that's a really fast rate of advancement. Thomas Boland has further refined and improved his technique for laying down cells using a commercial inkjet printer.

Research from Clemson University shows that producing cardiac tissue with off-the-shelf inkjet technology can be improved significantly with precise cell placement. Tom Boland, associate professor in Clemson’s bioengineering department, along with Catalin Baicu of the Medical University of South Carolina, present their findings today (2-18) at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Conference in San Francisco.

Since Boland’s discovery in 2004, “printing” tissue using 3-D printers has focused on printing materials for hard tissue applications, such as in the jawbone. The study presented at AAAS focused on precise placement of cells, which is essential to achieving function in soft tissue, such as the heart. In this study, live, beating heart cells were achieved more efficiently.

How about printing out a new organ?

The latest advance: lay down the scaffolding and cells at the same time using different nozzles. Color printers have 3 nozzles for 3 colors and so this advance builds upon that capability.

“The breakthrough with this technology is that cells now can be precision-placed virtually instantaneously with the materials that make up a scaffold to hold the cells in place,” Boland said. Precision placement of the cells is achieved by filling an empty inkjet cartridge with a hydrogel solution (a material that has properties similar to tissue) and another inkjet cartridge with cells. The printing is accomplished much in the way that color photographs are made, activating alternatively the hydrogel and cell nozzles.

Computer technology is mass-produced and cheap. Some day biotechnology will be cheap as well. Production of internal organs and other body parts will become very cheap. Microfluidic chips and robotic devices will build replacement parts and gene therapies.

Also see my previous post Modified Printers Used For Tissue Engineering. Also, inkjet printers are not the only commonplace cheap computer accessory getting used in novel ways to work with biological materials. CD players have uses in biology as well. See my posts CD Player Turned Into Bioassay Molecule Detection Instrument and CD Will Simultaneously Test Concentrations Of Thousands Of Proteins.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2007 February 24 08:54 PM  Biotech Tissue Engineering

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