Technological innovation will never cease to amaze us and this novelty from Australian researchers is a great example of this. We are talking about taking the concept of 3D bioprinting further thanks to a small robot that It will carry out the entire process already inside our body.
To contextualize, bioprinting is a method that makes it possible to fabricate cellular structures from stem cell bioinks: layer by layer, the biomaterial is deposited to design skin, tissue, or even a organ (heart, ear, lung or kidney printed on 3D).
It is still a bit early to have a bioprinted organ that is viable and durable over time, which is the challenge for our researchers. However, this novelty aims to solve one of the problems with this technique: the possibility of infection in the process of surgery.
As Thanh Nho Do, a biomedical engineer at UNSW Sydney, explains, “Existing 3D bioprinting techniques require biomaterials to be made outside the body, and implanting them into a person would typically require large open field surgery, increasing the risks of infection.”.
3D bioprinting inside the human body
As mentioned before, this novelty named F3DB will allow the generation of 3D bioprinting of what is already needed within the human body.
The system works like an endoscopy that in turn has this small robot that will carry out the whole process from the inside. The manufactured versions have approximately a size ranging from 20 mm to 11 mm in diameter.
“The flexible body of this prototype allows you to 3D print multi-layered biomaterials of various sizes and shapes through tight and challenging spaces,” says the biomedical engineer. Of course, clarify that the researchers have demonstrated these functions, for the moment, in an artificial colon and in the intestine and kidney of a pig.
They explain in FreeThink that this robotic novelty not only works as a bioprinter, since it is also capable of performing surgeries, cleaning internal wounds and as a common endoscope.
In the future, perhaps, instead of 3D bioprinting patches and then sewing them into patients’ hearts, for example, during open-heart surgery, clinicians will be able to use a version of F3DB to print the patches exactly where they are needed. The researchers also believe that the system could be downsized for other uses. They hope that they are missing between 5 and 7 years to be ready for clinical useassuming everything goes as planned.