3D Bioprinting Solutions and the P. A. Hertsen Moscow Oncology Research Center conducted a unique experiment on implant in-situ bioprinting to replace skin defects. The experiment was carried out in-situ – that is, “on the spot” – on live rats during an operation in the laboratory of preclinical studies of the P.A. Herzen MORC.
The study was performed on rats for two to three weeks. Bioprinting was carried out directly onto a skin defect (wound) using a KUKA robot manipulator. Specially developed collagen hydrogel Viscoll from the 3D Bioprinting Solutions laboratory was used as bio-ink during the experiment.
“Bioprinting refers to the breakthrough research of modern bioengineering. The results of this experiment have no analogs in the world,” said Yusef Khesuani, Managing Partner of 3D Bioprinting Solutions. “In this experiment, we combine the capabilities of robotics, three-dimensional bioprinting, and the advantages of our proprietary collagen product Viscoll for a potential clinical revolution that will see robots creating three-dimensional tissue-engineered tissues and even organs in real-time, assisting surgeons during the operation. In the future, regenerative medicine technology will enable printing of three-dimensional tissue-engineered structures directly at the site of a defect in a specific patient’s organ.”
In-situ bioprinting technology combines surgical robotics with three-dimensional bioprinting. Using special robotic hands allows printing not only on horizontal surfaces but also to fill tissue defects of irregular shape at the right angle with a contour deposition technique. Moreover, in-situ bioprinting minimizes the risks of organ rejection and the development of various complications after transplantation (diabetes mellitus, hyperlipemia, hyperuricemia, cerebrovascular disease, neoplasms) due to prolonged use of immunosuppressive drugs.
During our recent visit to 3D Bioprinting Solutions in Moscow, Khesuani also explained that applying bioprinted tissue grafts in-situ is very much a software and computer vision challenge as well. Since the body of a live rat, just like the body of a live human, moves up and down with breathing patterns, the deposition arm needs to be able to recognize these movements and adapt to them. This adds yet another challenge to multi-axial contour printing.
The success of the experiment demonstrated this method shows great promise in addressing the issues of vascularization (pathological proliferation of blood vessels): native recipient endothelial progenitor cells migrate into the printed tissue-engineered construct and capillaries sprout from the tissue surrounding defect.
This experiment was the first step towards the application of bioprinting technology in the operating room for further use in humans. In the future, this will allow for the bioprinting of three-dimensional tissue-engineering constructs directly at the site of a defect, in a specific patient organ. This will significantly expand the range of application of bioprinting technology, as it will help to do away with the current need to grow implantable constructs in specialized bioreactors and incubation systems.