We all take articular cartilage for granted. It takes up a seemingly insignificant amount of space, and somehow absorbs the full pressure our body weight. Arthritis and articular injuries can cause chronic and crippling pain. One group of researchers is developing 3D printed cartilage by bioprinting with an ‘ink’ containing human cells. This technology may one day lead to printed implants, noses, ears, and knees.
The bioink is made up of polysaccharides, cellulose fibrils, and human chondrocytes which produce cartilage. This ink allows researchers to create extremely specific architectures for detailed tissues like an ear.
“Three-dimensional bioprinting is a disruptive technology and is expected to revolutionize tissue engineering and regenerative medicine,” says Paul Gatenholm, Ph.D. “We work with the ear and the nose, which are parts of the body that surgeons today have a hard time repairing. But hopefully, they’ll one day be able to fix them with a 3-D printer and a bioink made out of a patient’s own cells.”
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