The past 3 months has been busy for 3D bioprinting companies, with numerous publications emerging from academia and announcements from industry. This article will highlight the advancements made in 3D bioprinting in the last 3 months since the publication of the 2018 update of IDTechEx's market research report on the topic: 3D Bioprinting 2018-2028: Technologies, Markets, Forecasts.
Bioprinters and Bioprinting Techniques
For the past few years companies have been rapidly expanding the range of affordable desktop 3D bioprinters to target academic laboratories entering the field of regenerative medicine. These 3D bioprinters began at a price point of $5000 and have over the last 2 years gained new functionalities which have moved their price point up to an average of $30,000.
However, the envelope is also being pushed in the opposite direction, with several academic labs now providing open source 3D bioprinter designs which users can build for much less. One such example was published in the journal HardwareX this March by Professor Adam Feinberg's group at Carnegie Mellon University. The 3D bioprinter is created by modifying a standard desktop 3D printer and can be built for under $500. (Source: Carnegie Mellon University)
Separately, 3D bioprinting techniques beyond the traditional inkjet and extrusion methods are being established. Professor Ali Khademhosseini of the University of California, Los Angeles has published in the journal Advanced Materials on the use of microfluidic chips and stereolithography to build structures of multiple materials. While traditional stereolithographic methods are limited to the printing of one material at a time, the use of the microfluidic chip and micromirrors allows for the 3D bioprinting structures of much greater complexity. (Source: UCLA)
Researchers at the University of Toronto have published their handheld 3D bioprinter in the journal Lab on a Chip. The handheld printer is designed for in situ 3D bioprinting of skin tissue to cover and heal deep wounds. The device can print the necessary wound healing materials to cover the wound in 2 minutes or less. Development is still in early stages - the researchers plan on performing more in vivo studies first before any application to patients may be conducted. (Source: U of Toronto). For information on other advanced wound care technologies, please refer to the IDTechEx report Advanced Wound Care Technologies 2018 - 2028.
This gif shows the 3D skin printer in action (Navid Hakimi via GIPHY).
3D Bioprinted Disease Models
While the past 3 months has seen several achievements in 3D bioprinted tissues, including the 3D bioprinting of cornea, bile duct, and heart tissue, a field that is emerging in 3D bioprinting is the creation of 3D disease models. 3D tissue models are particularly important in the study of cancer, as the behavior of these cells are significantly different in 2D and 3D. By studying the behavior of the aberrant cells and understanding how diseases develop, new treatments can be devised and tested in these 3D disease models.
Organovo has made such a move into the 3D bioprinting of disease models from their previous focus on 3D bioprinting healthy tissue for regenerative medicine. In April 2018, the company presented 2 posters at the International Liver Congress in Paris, France, on their capabilities in modeling non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and then successfully treating the disease model with a drug candidate from Cirius Therapeutics. (Source: Organovo)
In May, researchers from Soochow University and Tsinghua University published in the journal Biofabrication on the 3D bioprinting of glioma stem cells. While current studies have explored these cells in 2D, the study of the tumor 3D environment is critical in understanding why "anti-glioma drugs that have proved effective in vitro have failed miserably in clinical trials". (Source: Physics World)
3D Bioprinting at the IDTechEx Show!
You can also learn more about 3D bioprinting and 3D printing in healthcare at the IDTechEx Show! this 14 - 15 November at the Santa Clara Convention Center, USA. On 13 Nov 2018, IDTechEx Technology Analysts Dr Nadia Tsao and Dr Bryony Core will be leading a masterclass titled 3D Medical Printing & Bioprinting at the same venue. During this masterclass, Dr Mayasari Lim of SE3D will conduct a workshop on the 3D bioprinting.
Top image source: Robbins Organovo 3D
Learn more at the next leading event on the topic: 3D Printing Europe 2019 on 10 - 11 Apr 2019 at Estrel Convention Center, Berlin, Germany hosted by IDTechEx.