3D bioprinting is a process of creating spatially-controlled cells using 3D printers. There are many uses of this particular technology which includes the use of 3D printers to make stem cells and building body parts to replace damaged ones. It is one of the most important engineering tools brought into the field of medical technology.
One of the most recent and interesting use of 3D bioprinting is on breast cancer research. Researchers from the Texas Medical Center created in vitro models of breast cancer by magnetically levitating the cancer cells using a commercial 3D bioprinting system. By levitating the cell cultures, the research team conducting this study was able to replicate the tumor cells in a micro-environment with ease.
With this technology, using 3D bioprinters allow researchers to form large-sized models within a few hours, mimic the tumor microenvironment and test the drug efficiency in a model that is compatible with the in vivo (natural environment) of the cancer cells. With the magnetically levitated 3D bioprinted cancer cells, the researchers also have control over the tumor density as well as composition. This gives researchers a lot of opportunities to test different environmental factors of the cancer cells and help them better understand it—which hopefully would lead to a cure.
The research provides a better model of the breast cancer which signifies a very important breakthrough when it comes to studying cancer cells outside the body. Without 3D bioprinting, it is difficult to culture cancer cells in conditions outside the host. With this technology, it opens new doors of possibilities for future researchers to develop new and effective treatment modalities for cancer.