Industrial 3D printing was a revolution in the field of technology and consumer-based products. After several successful attempts in this technology, scientists have now managed to build bioprinters — which are regular 3D printers with a different ink. A special bio-ink is now used to replicate organs, tissues, fibres and other components. Recent advances in 3D bioprinting have increased the feasibility towards the synthesis of living tissues, the recent report pointed out. Known as 3D bioprinting, this technology involves the precise layering of cells, biologic scaffolds, and growth factors with the goal of creating bioidentical tissue for a variety of uses.
So, how will bioprinting impact the implant market? The production for implants could witness a rapid change in the healthcare sector and since the manufacturing would increase, the cost would go down significantly. Many laws and regulations ban the use of animals for testing in bio labs for healthcare products and bioprinting technology can easily replace “animals”, give appropriate results and not harm any living being. From skin to bones, anything can be produced artificially.
The Bone Affair
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Indian researchers have formulated a novel method to fabricate bones in humans. Scientists from IIT Delhi and IIT Kanpur have constructed an adult load-bearing bone construct through 3D bioprinting. According to studies, the researchers took inspiration from the biological pathway of bone formation, where a stem cell differentiates to form bones. The integrated 3D bioprinting with tissue engineering was used to construct bones. A silk-gelatin bio-ink was used to bioprint the bone construct. It is a complex business since artificially implanted bones must form strong cellular attachments with other cells and perform biological functions like cartilage differentiation which could lead to organ production. This has to be done in a customised manner for a patient.
The study will be tested on animals to check the load-bearing capacity of the artificial bones. It’s the load-bearing attribute which differentiates this innovation from others. In load-bearing bones, the extracellular matrix is 95% while in normal bones it’s 5%. 3D bio-printed constructs are more efficient than other fabricated bones since these bone constructs produced 10 times more extracellular matrix, which makes the bone steadier. The construct is made from bio-ink, thyroid hormones, stem cells, growth factors etc.
Indian Startups Which Are Making Bioprinting Popular
Bioprinting is not restricted to researchers at IIT, but many Indian startups are now making this technology popular with innovative solutions. Biop started by the students from BITS Pilani and Goa, aims to change medical research by manufacturing equipment and technology for 3D bioprinting. The product can form human tissues with one click and sensors, actuators and UV technology to control the 3D bioprinting. BioApp helps bio-scientists check the status of sensors and allow autonomous edits. The bio-ink helps in creating a 3D structure with the bio-paper which is used as a base. The company has collaborated with MIT and Harvard.
This Bangalore based startup called Next Big Innovation labs founded in 2016 is revolutionising cosmetic, pharmaceutical and clinical research in India. The enterprise aims to manufacture products through 3D bioprinting. One of the flagship products is Innoskin, a 3D bioprinted skin tissue which is an alternative to cosmetic, ingredient and pharmaceutical R&D. It can be used for testing skin irritation and corrosion and is currently being used on animal models. Other products include pre-surgical models which help as teaching guides and their product is being used in Ethiopia.