A group of researchers from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Electromaterials Science (ACES) at the University of Wollongong had developed a way of “printing” human induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) using a custom bioink.
The tem behind a paper documenting the new technique, published in the journal Advanced Healthcare Materials, had come to prominence with their previous discovery, which had allowed them to print 3D structures that support the growth of brain-like tissue from human neural stem cells.
“This flexible 3D tissue engineering technology enables iPSCs generated from an individual’s own body to divide after printing and differentiate in a way that will allow us to form and replace any tissue type of the body,” said stem cell expert at ACES, Associate Professor Jeremy Crook.
Once the method passes a certain threshold of reliability, it could be used to manufacture healthy tissue to replace or repair organs that were damaged due to injury or disease, as well as unhealthy tissue which could be used for research into more advanced pharmaceuticals and other medical interventions.
The research team behind the new discovery claims “there’s no doubt that sometime in the future engineering tissues by bioprinting iPSCs will be routinely performed for surgical treatments of patients with damaged or diseased tissue”.
One reason to think this might work is that “printing” tissues from clinically-compliant bioinks with iPSCs would enable medical practitioners to carry out transplants with a significantly reduced risk of immune rejection.
The team has already begun preclinical safety trials in hopes of advancing the technique to a level required for application in further research, as well as regenerative and personalised modalities of medical treatment.
According to Professor Crook and his colleagues, the advance would not have been possible without close collaboration among research professionals working in such diverse fields as materials science, cell biology and mechatronic engineering.
“This convergence means we are making rapid progress towards outcomes of clinical significance”.