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Researchers Announce New Advance in 3D Printing and Tissue Engineering Technology

By CIOReview | Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Boston: Researchers at Brigham and Women's Hospital (BWH) and Carnegie Mellon University have pioneered a unique micro-robotic system to assemble the components of complex materials, the foundation of tissue engineering and 3D printing.

Tissue engineering and 3D printing have become significant for the future of medicine for different reasons. For example, the lack of availability of organs for transplantation leaves many patients on waiting list for life-saving treatment. Being able to engineer organs using a patient's own cells can not only ease this shortage, but also tackle issues related to rejection of donated organs. Using current preclinical models have limitations in reliability and predictability but tissue engineering provides a more practical means for researchers to study cell behavior, such as cancer cell resistance to therapy, and test new drugs or combinations of drugs to treat many diseases.

The new approach uses un-tethered magnetic micro-robotic coding for precise construction of individual cell-encapsulating hydrogels (such as cell blocks). The micro-robot, which is remotely controlled by magnetic fields, can move one hydrogel at a time to build structures.

The research was conducted by Savas Tasoglu, PhD, MS, research fellow in the BWH Division of Renal Medicine, and Utkan Demirci, PhD, MS, Associate Professor of Medicine in the Division of Biomedical Engineering, in collaboration with Eric Diller, PhD, MS, and Metin Sitti, PhD, MS, professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, Carnegie Mellon University.

This technique is critical in tissue engineering, as human tissue architecture is complex, with different types of cells at various levels and locations. "Compared with earlier techniques, this technology enables true control over bottom-up tissue engineering," explains Savas Tasoglu.

"We are really just beginning to explore the many possibilities in using this micro-robotic technique to manipulate individual cells or cell-encapsulating building blocks. This is a very exciting and rapidly evolving field that holds a lot of promise in medicine," says Demirci.

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