3D bioprinting proves to be an indispensable technology in the field of medical research. Aside from creating precise medical models and prosthetics, it is now used to help improve the lives of patients suffering from different conditions.
Researchers from Michigan Technological University see the potential of using 3D bioprinters in synthesizing nerve tissues. Researchers are investigating the appropriate “bioink” to create printable tissues including nerve cells. The bioink is a nanotechnology material that can aid in the regeneration of damaged nerves for patients suffering from injuries in the spinal cord.
Professor Tolou Shokuhfar, a professor of mechanical and biomedical engineering at MTU, describes the new bioprinter as a small device that can change the image of medical science and research. The printer looks like an oven toaster with all of its sides removable. The metal frame is lit by ultraviolet light that can print bioinks at precise amounts.
Currently, the team of researchers were able to create nerve cells as their target specimen. The reason for this is that unlike conventional cells, nerve cells do not regenerate once they die or get damaged. Every year, people loose thousand or even millions or nerve cells until they get older. Creating synthetic nerve cells provide a promising future in neurosurgery. Aside from treating spinal cord injuries, it can also be used in treating brain anomalies like Alzheimer’s or Parkinson disease. Once this procedure is perfected, Professor Shokuhfar and his team are also looking into targeting bigger tissues like kidneys and the heart in the future.