Knowledge base

Here are the most important concepts and a brief introduction to our field of science:

3D bioprinting is a technology where bioinks, mixed with living cells, are printed in 3D to construct natural tissue-like three-dimensional structures. Currently, this technology can be used in various research areas, such as tissue engineering and new drug development.

3D bioprinting is an additive manufacturing process that uses bioinks to print living cells developing structures layer-by-layer which imitate the behavior and structures of natural tissues. Bioinks, that are used as a material in bioprinting, are made of natural or synthetic biomaterials that can be mixed with living cells. Biotusze, które są używane jako materiał w biodruku, są wykonane z naturalnych lub syntetycznych biomateriałów, które można mieszać z żywymi komórkami.

The technology and bioprinted structures enable researchers to study functions of the human body in vitro. 3D bioprinted structures are more biologically relevant compared to in vitro studies performed in 2D.

Mostly, 3D bioprinting can be used for several biological applications in the fields of tissue engineering, bioengineering and materials science. The technology is also increasingly used for pharmaceutical development and drug validation. Clinical settings such as 3D printed skin and bone grafts, implants and even full 3D printed organs are currently at the center of bioprinting research.

The emergence of 3D bioprinting has allowed a variety of hydrogel-based “bioinks” to be printed in the presence of cells to create precisely defined cell-loaded 3D scaffolds in a single step for advancing tissue engineering and/or regenerative medicine.While existing bioinks based primarily on ionic cross-linking, photo-cross-linking, or thermogelation have significantly advanced the field, they offer technical limitations in terms of the mechanics, degradation rates, and the cell viabilities achievable with the printed scaffolds, particularly in terms of aiming to match the wide range of mechanics and cellular microenvironments. Click chemistry offers an appealing solution to this challenge given that proper selection of the chemistry can enable precise tuning of both the gelation rate and the degradation rate, both key to successful tissue regeneration; simultaneously, the often bio-orthogonal nature of click chemistry is beneficial to maintain high cell viabilities within the scaffolds. However, to date, relatively few examples of 3D-printed click chemistry hydrogels have been reported, mostly due to the technical challenges of controlling mixing during the printing process to generate high-fidelity prints without clogging the printer.

3D bioprinting is evolving rapidly since researchers have innovated and driven the field forward. However, as a technology, 3D printing is not a new invention. The first steps in 3D printing were taken in 1980s, when in 1984 Charles Hull filed a patent for the first commercial 3D printing technology. This has been a symbol of the birth of 3D printing, and it created the base for 3D bioprinting as well. Bioprinting came into picture in 1988, when Robert J. Klebe used inkjet printer for printing cells. After these first steps, the field has constantly evolved, and new methods and techniques have been discovered. The countless possibilities and opportunities to create something ground-breaking keep intriguing scientists, and thus bioprinting has become a popular technology.

Three-dimensional bioprinting plays an important role in tissue engineering which aims to fabricate functional tissue for applications in regenerative medicine and drug testing. Tissue regeneration and reconstruction could enable the possibility to repair or replace damaged tissues and organs.

Bioinks are used as the base material when bioprinting tissue-, organ-, or bone-like structures with bioprinters. 3D bioinks can be cell-laden or scaffold-free.

Choosing the right composition of bioink, and the bioink density can affect the cell viability and cell density, hence, selecting the most suitable bioink for each research purpose is essential.

3D printers and 3D bioprinters are similar to each other, but 3D printers are designed to print solid materials, where 3D bioprinters are designed to print liquid or gel. 3D bioprinters are also designed to handle sensitive material that contain living cells, without creating too much damage on the end result. Bioprinters can be inkjet based, laser assisted, or extrusion based. Each printer type has its pros and cons when it comes to cost, cell viability, cell density, resolution, and so on. Bioprinters’ compatibility with bioinks also varies, and therefore it is important to ensure the bioprinter and bioink work well together.

Biomaterials and bioinks produced by Polbionica are compatible with leading manufacturers of commercially available 3D bioprinters such as Allevi3D, Aspect Biosystems (RX), Cellink (Bio X), Regemat3D (Bio V1), RegenHU (R-Gen) or Tissuelabs (TissueStart)

The rapid development of technology can be seen in the advancement of bioprinting. Three-dimensional bioprinting technology has the potential to solve numerous problems in areas such as healthcare. Functioning bladders, which have been grown using bioprinted tissue from patients’ own cells have already been transplanted into human body successfully2,3.  Researchers are constantly researching the possibility of bioprinting other functioning organs.

One future scenario of 3D bioprinting could be that no-more organ donors are needed, as personalized human organs can be printed using the patients’ own cells or stem cells as a base. This technology can be revolutionizing in preventing and fixing diseases. Eventually, it is hoped that bioprinting technology will enhance medical care and make it more efficient.

This is what the interdisciplinary team of specialists from Polbionica is doing.