With immense possibilities in design and development, 3D printing has emerged in recent years as a technology that can change the world.
From educational tools to surgical resources, 3D-printed designs are making a mark in a myriad professional areas and industries. Among the many possibilities, 3D bioprinting — a process of creating body tissues and organs using 3D printing — holds great promises for the future of medicine.
In a first for India, a team of scientists from IIT-Delhi has developed a 3D bioprinted cartilage that is remarkably similar to the natural ones seen in human knees.
Led by Prof Sourabh Ghosh from the Department of Textile Technology at IIT-D, the research team has created the 3D printed cartilage using a bioink, reported The Hindu. The process and results of the study were recently published in a bioprinting journal.
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According to the team, the bioink used to create the cartilage consists of bone marrow-derived cartilage stem cells and silk proteins in high concentration, among other formulae. The bioink supports the growth and survival of cells and the silk protein ensures the bioprinted cartilage’s similarity to its natural counterpart.
Prof Sourabh told the Hindu, “The silk protein has different amino acids that closely resemble the amino acids present in human tissues. Just like cells are surrounded by proteins inside our body, the cells in the engineered cartilage are also surrounded by bioink that has a similar composition.”
According to Shikha Chawla, who co-authored the paper and is also from IIT-Delhi, this is the first time 3D bioprinted tissue has been developed in a lab in India.
In its present state, the lab-developed cartilage remains physically stable for up to six weeks. The team next hopes to implant the bioprinted cartilage in animals to test its stability and capacity to integrate with the surrounding cartilage tissue.