Bioprinting is a fabrication technique to 3-D print living cells for tissue engineering applications using bioink, a biocompatible gel that supports cells by providing mechanical integrity. Combining bioink with clinical imaging techniques enables the creation of custom constructs specifically designed for a patient. The Bonassar lab has over a decade of expertise in bioprinting and co-founded 3-D Bio, the first company to enter clinical trials with a bioprinted ear.
Collagen hydrogels have been widely used as bioinks and in other tissue engineering applications. Collagen is a beneficial bioink because it is a major component of the native extracellular matrix; however, it has been found to be inferior to other bioinks because of low mechanical properties and poor shape fidelity. Our lab has previously shown that the mechanical properties and shape fidelity of collagen bioinks can be improved by increasing collagen concentration and is now working on further improving these bioinks by:
- Varying collagen pH [Collaborations: Histogenics, Corp.]
- Applying riboflavin crosslinking
To obtain FDA approval for bioprinted constructs, rigorous quality control tests are performed. Quality control investigates the behavior and effect of cells within the construct. This testing can involve a wide range of experiments on cellular properties such as cell concentration, viability, distribution, metabolic activity, and mechanical properties. Each experiment involves producing a cell-seeded construct and harvesting sections of this construct for testing. This effectively destroys the construct. As such, several constructs are needed for quality control testing of each cellular property, resulting in a drain of time, labor, and resources.
- We seek to remedy this issue by creating a device capable of non-destructively detecting cellular properties in real-time during bioprinting. Named the ‘Smart Syringe’, our device is in development with West Pharmaceutical Services to reimage the capabilities of biosensors and improve bioprinting technology.
Weill Cornell Medicine- Dr. Jason Spector, PhD, MD
West Pharmaceutical Services