Developing Gelatin Bio-Ink for 3D Printing of Artificial Tissue
(3Ders.org) German researchers have developed a new gelatin bio-ink that can be used by 3D printing technology to produce artificial tissues. Researchers at Fraunhofer Institute for Interfacial Engineering and Biotechnology (IGB) in Stuttgart have succeeded in developing suitable bio-inks for 3D printing that consist of components from the natural tissue matrix and living cells. The substance is based on a well known biological material: gelatin. Gelatin is derived from collagen, the main constituent of native tissue.
The researchers have chemically modified the gelling behavior of the gelatin to adapt the biological molecules for printing. Instead of gelling like unmodified gelatin, the bio-inks remain fluid during printing. These are polymers containing a huge amount of water (just like native tissue), but which are stable in aqueous environments and when heated to the average temperature of the human body.
“We are concentrating at the moment on the ‘natural’ variant. That way we remain very close to the original material. Even if the potential for synthetic hydrogels is big, we still need to learn a fair amount about the interactions between the artificial substances and cells or natural tissue. Our biomolecule-based variants provide the cells with a natural environment instead, and therefore can promote the self-organizing behavior of the printed cells to form a functional tissue model,” explains Dr. Kirsten Borchers in describing the approach at IGB.