Lose an arm in a vicious honey badger attack? No problem, just hop on down to your local bioprint shop and have a new printed up. That might seem far-fetched, but science is getting closer and closer to providing that reality.
Printed replacement human body parts might seem like science fiction, but this technology is rapidly becoming a reality with the potential to greatly contribute to regenerative medicine. Before any real applications, “bioprinting” still faces many technical challenges. Processing the bio-ink and making it stick to itself and hold the desired printed gel structure have been proving particularly difficult especially in inkjet printing. Few methods currently exist for gluing bio-ink droplets together and these do not work for every kind of cell, motivating new alternative approaches.
Building on their previous work, researchers at Osaka University have now refined an enzyme-driven approach to sticking biological ink droplets together, enabling complex biological structures to be printed.