Revolutionising bioprinting with embedded extrusion-volumetric printing

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Scientists introduced a new technique, Embedded Extrusion Volumetric Printing (EmVP). This technique overcomes challenges in bioprinting and create physiologically-relevant models. EmVP was used as a proof of concept to create intercellular communication models inspired by synthetic biology. The team of researchers published their findings in Advanced Materials.

EmVP: A novel technique for bioprinting complex structures

The EmVP technique combines extrusion-bioprinting and layer-less, ultra-fast volumetric bioprinting, allowing the spatial arrangement of multiple inks or cell types. This new method overcomes the difficulty of reproducing the complex patterns and structures of cells, both at the micro and macro scales.

EmVP was developed by an international research team, primarily from Utrecht University. It has the potential of revolutionising bioprinting as well its applications in other industries and medical research. The technique was successfully used to create intercellular communication models inspired by synthetic biology. This opened up new opportunities for the production of regenerative grafts and engineered living systems.

EmVP’s potential in medical research: Parkinson’s disease

As Dieuwke Devos, who is one of the EmVP researchers, demonstrated in her thesis, the EmVP technique can be applied to the creation of a 3D in vitro network of neural cells. De Vos and her team used suspended extrusion-based bioprinting to establish a 3D in vitro model of a neural network for studying Parkinson’s disease, a condition that affects an increasing number of people worldwide and causes central nervous system cells to malfunction, resulting in tremors, stiffness, balancing issues, and rigidity.

Traditional models for studying Parkinson’s disease include simplified 2D models and animal models, both of which have limitations in replicating human disease. The EmVP technique allows for the printing of 3D human brain tissue for studying Parkinson’s disease, providing a more accurate representation of the affected tissue and offering new opportunities for drug testing and personalised medicine applications.

EmVP: bioresins and microgels.

To develop the EmVP technique, the research team created light-responsive microgels to be used as bioresins (µResins) for light-based volumetric bioprinting. These µResins provide a microporous environment for cell homing and self-organisation, enhancing the differentiation of multiple stem/progenitor cells, including vascular, mesenchymal, and neural cells.

The researchers tuned the mechanical and optic properties of microparticles made from gelatin to be used as support baths for suspended extrusion. The process involves printing living cells in bioinks into a support solution, which helps to prevent the collapse of printed structures and maintains the cell position. EmVP allows rapid creation of features with multiple inks, including different cell types. This technique offers advantages over traditional bioprinting.

EmVP’s future in bioprinting

The Embedded Extrusion Volumetric Printing technique (EmVP), which allows the creation of complex 3-D structures using multiple inks, cell types and other materials, is a major step forward for bioprinting. The potential of this technique to produce regenerative grafts that have biological functionality, as well as develop engineered living systems (metabolic disease models) and regenerative grafts that are functional with biochemistry opens up new opportunities for medical research.

As EmVP continues to be refined and applied to various research areas, its impact on the study of diseases like Parkinson’s and the development of personalised medicine is expected to grow. The technique’s ability to create physiologically-relevant models may lead to significant breakthroughs in understanding and treating various medical conditions, ultimately improving patient outcomes and quality of life.