Swinburne uses tiny ‘BioSphere’ beads to grow stem cells for 3D bio-printed cartilage repair

Researchers at Australia’s Swinburne University will soon be taking advantage of the possibilities of 3D bio-printing with a cutting-edge new Biopen device. They are assisting in development of a small handheld 3D printer that can be used by surgeons to efficiently regrow important tissue like bone and cartilage in patients, using stem cells. Swinburne’s latest project is known as BioSphere, named after the beads that have been developed to more efficiently grow the necessary stem cells. Like a similar 3D bio-printingproject being carried out at Griffith University, which we reported on recently, it will be funded by the Australian government’s BioMedTech Horizons program.


Many bio-printing projects make use of stem cells. These cells can be extracted from individual patients, and then grown in a lab into the specific tissue that is needed to repair their body. Because they contain the patient’s DNA, they will be perfectly compatible with the surrounding healthy tissue in the areas that they are implanted. This leads to much quicker and more efficient healing, and improves the prognosis for a whole range of injuries and illnesses.


What is particularly promising about the new BioSphere research is the innovative way that it presents to grow stem cells. Bio-printing research wasn’t progressing as fast as predicted due to the lack of means to generate the huge number of cells that are necessary for successful treatments. Researchers also lacked methods by which to recover the cells from the dishes that they were being grown on without damaging them.

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