Dr. Akhilesh K. Gaharwar, assistant professor in the Department of Biomedical...
Dr. Akhilesh K. Gaharwar, assistant professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering, is leading a research project to develop a bioink platform to sequester therapeutic proteins within a 3D printed structure to control and direct cell functions.
Source: Texas A&M Engineering

Bioinks print therapeutics in 3D

Researchers have developed a 3D-printable hydrogel bioink containing mineral nanoparticles that can deliver protein therapeutics to control cell behavior.

3D bioprinting is emerging as a promising method for rapidly fabricating cell-containing constructs for designing new, healthy, functional tissues. However, one of the major challenges in 3D bioprinting is lack of control over cellular functions. Growth factors, which are a special class of proteins, can direct cellular fate and functions. However, these growth factors cannot be easily incorporated within a 3D-printed structure for a prolonged duration.

In a recent study conducted at Texas A&M, researchers in Dr. Akhilesh K Gaharwar’s lab in the Department of Biomedical Engineering formulated a bioink consisting of 2D mineral nanoparticles to sequester and 3D print therapeutics at precise locations.

The team has designed a new class of hydrogel bioinks — 3D structures that can absorb and retain considerable amounts of water — loaded with therapeutic proteins. This bioink is made from an inert polymer — polyethylene glycol (PEG), and is advantageous for tissue engineering because it does not provoke the immune system. However, due to low viscosity of the PEG polymer solution, it is difficult to 3D print this type of polymer. To overcome this limitation, the team has found that combining PEG polymers with nanoparticles leads to an interesting class of bioink hydrogels that can support cell growth and may have enhanced printability compared to polymer hydrogels by themselves.

This new technology, based on a nanoclay platform developed by Gaharwar, assistant professor, can be used for precise deposition of protein therapeutics. This bioink formulation has unique shear-thinning properties that allow the material to be injected, quickly stop flowing and then cure to stay in place, which is highly desirable for 3D bioprinting applications. “This formulation using nanoclay sequesters the therapeutic of interest for increased cell activity and proliferation,” said Dr. Charles W. Peak, senior author on the study. “In addition, the prolonged delivery of the bioactive therapeutic could improve cell migration within 3D printed scaffolds and can help in rapid vascularization of scaffolds.”

Gaharwar said the prolonged delivery of the therapeutic could also reduce overall costs by decreasing the therapeutic concentration as well as minimizing the negative side effects associated with supraphysiological doses. “Overall, this study provides proof of principle to print protein therapeutics in 3D that can be used to control and direct cell functions,” he said.

Subscribe to our newsletter

Related articles

3D printed implants seed multiple layers of tissue

3D printed implants seed multiple layers of tissue

Researchers are 3D printing "groovy" tissue-engineering scaffolds with living cells to help heal injuries.

Bioprinting complex living tissue in seconds

Bioprinting complex living tissue in seconds

Researchers have developed an extremely fast optical method for sculpting complex shapes in stem-cell-laden hydrogels and then vascularizing the resulting tissue.

Bioprinting tissue and organs through lithography

Bioprinting tissue and organs through lithography

Artificial organs: researchers are developing a lithography method that relies on light sheet illumination and on special photosensitive hydrogels that are mixed with living cells.

Organ bioprinting gets a breath of fresh air

Organ bioprinting gets a breath of fresh air

Bioengineers have cleared a major hurdle on the path to 3D printing replacement organs with a breakthrough technique for bioprinting tissues.

3D printing of biological tissue

3D printing of biological tissue

Scientists hope we will soon be using 3D-printed biologically functional tissue to replace irreparably damaged tissue in the body.

Ears from the 3D-printer

Ears from the 3D-printer

Researchers use the biodegradable material cellulose to produce implants for cartilage diseases using 3D printing.

3D printing cells to produce human tissue

3D printing cells to produce human tissue

Engineers have developed a method to 3D print cells to produce human tissue such as ligaments and tendons, a process that will greatly improve a patient's recovery.

Sight for sore eyes – First 3D printed human corneas

Sight for sore eyes – First 3D printed human corneas

The first human corneas have been 3D printed by scientists at Newcastle University.

An elastic biodegradable hydrogel for bioprinting of new tissues

An elastic biodegradable hydrogel for bioprinting of new tissues

Researchers have developed a highly elastic biodegradable hydrogel for bioprinting of materials that mimic natural human soft tissues.

Popular articles