Have you ever heard about Frankenstein’s monster? Victor Frankenstein was a scientist who invented a secret technique to impart life to unanimated matter. This allowed him to create a monster with human emotions and sensations.
We know that his is only science fiction. However, nowadays, the on-demand growth of human tissues and organs using artificial instruments is becoming reality. Can you believe it? Check out this video to find out how!
One emerging technique to make this happen is 3D printing, which is based on the 3D deposition of material in specific shapes. This technology can be applied in biology to produce 3D scaffolds of our tissues. The cells are directly embedded inside the scaffolds and the material loaded with the cells is then 3D printed into the desired shape. This method allows the fabrication of bone and cartilage, skin and cardiac constructs.
The choice of the material used as an ink (or bioink) is very important and it should be biocompatible to allow the cells to survive during the printing process. Beside this, the ink should have an optimal viscosity to allow printing and to avoid the 3D printed shape to collapse.
Water based gels (or hydrogels) are ideal inks for 3D bioprinting. These materials are mainly composed of water (more than 99 %) and therefore can closely mimic the natural environment of cells in the body.
Scientists have created many different bioinks. These could be applied for the regeneration of human tissues and maybe entire organs. Amazing! Isn’t it? Will this be the route towards a new Frankenstein’s monster? Stay tuned!