A major challenge in tissue engineering and stem cell research has been to mimic the micro and macro environment of human tissues. A satisfying functional outcome is highly dependent on the level to which tissue scientist and engineers can control the inner micro- and macro-scale features of the engineered-tissue. In response to this need, advances in additive manufacturing inspired scientists to develop and adapt this technology for bioprinting of human tissues and organs .
As Stuart K. Williams, Ph.D, from the university of Louisville says “It’s just a pump with tubes you need to connect” but we are not there yet, it’s all about the ” strategic placement of the valves and big vessels”, this would be achievable within a decade he asserts. However, what can be done today is the bioprinting of tissue like cartilage, skin, or liver. Such tissue can be used in drug discovery where researchers can test new potential treatments and evaluate efficacy in very early stages. This process allows us to produce more realistic and functional models of what is truly happening at the cellular level as opposed to 2D cell culturing, where cells are not expanding in a proper 3D environment. As a result, new drugs and treatments will reach clinical trials faster with a decreased number of failures and reduced need of animal testing. In cosmetology, for instance, the goal everybody is striving for is to completely eradicate the need of animal trials, which companies such as Organovo, L’Oreal, BASF, Poietis are currently working on by developing skin tissue models.
One has to remember, the process of printing the actual tissue structure is a critical step, but the most essential one is the culturing of the bioprinted constructs in order to have the cells grow and proliferate. Therefore, the focus must be on the cell friendly and supporting material. Much like the typical paper printer, the magic is in the ink.
Even minor deformities, whether is an actual or perceived defect, bring psychological distress upon the affected individuals, especially children. An outer appearance with life-like limbs and tissues is important for their psychological and emotional well-being. For these reasons, tissue engineers, biologists, material scientists, and clinicians have an invested interest and passion to develop a successful clinical therapy for reconstruction through a tissue engineering approach using the patient’s own cells. The innovative methods for engineering human tissues and organs can have a profound effect on the future of medicine. 3D Bioprinting is considered a revolutionizing technology for advancing and accelerating progress in the field of tissue engineering and regenerative medicine. and thus, the future of medicine. We believe we can create this future through a collaborative spirit and by putting our combined expertise to the service of humanity.
The future is created in the present and it belongs to the doers, those that continue moving forward in order to see their vision come to realization. It’s not that we see the future and then move towards it. We move in order to see it.