News and Reviews (January 2018)

Biocompatible 3D Micro Devices


3D Printed Micro-Objects in the Life Sciences

In segments such as regenerative medicine, neuroscience and drug discovery, 3D printing finds practical uses from cartilage repair, hearing aids to printable pills. In the challenge of fabricating biocompatible 3D micro devices, Nanoscribe’s 3D microprinting represents a versatile approach with the interplay of a high-resolution 3D printer and proprietary photo resin materials. The following scientific work in cell regeneration and nerve interfacing highlights the practicality of 3D-printed micro-objects harmless to living systems.

3D-printed polymer scaffolds have gained great importance to build structural support capable to guide the proliferation and regeneration of cells, and potentially organs. In the published work of Nanoscribe’s customers of the University of Iowa a novel approach for producing ocular tissue was developed. They printed porous scaffolds with the Photonic Professional GT and the off-the-shelf photo resin IP-S. Human induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) were differentiated into retinal progenitor cells and seeded onto the printed scaffolds. Previously, this type of cells showed poor survival success due to the missing capability of the supporting scaffolds to facilitate the cell orientation. Throughout the latest studies, Tucker et al. demonstrated the exceptional compatibility of the 3D-printed porous scaffolds to ocular cells.  In particular, these cells survived and adapted to the 3D-printed environment, underpinning the biological affinity of IP-S-made scaffolds.

Close-up view of one photoreceptor cell scaffold for retinal regeneration.

Retinal progenitor cells (shown in red) attached to and nesting in the vertical pores of a 3D printed photoreceptor cell scaffold (grey).

 

Furthermore, researchers of the Gardner group at the Boston University developed a new nerve interface to stimulate nerve activity. The so-called nanoclip has been 3D-printed with the use of Nanoscribe’s 3D printer and its photo resin IP-Dip. The nanoclip can be built around various electrode materials, in this case carbon nanotube fibers for minimally invasive tethering. After transplantation of the nanoclip into a zebra finch researchers were able to track stimulation-evoked responses of the tracheal syringeal (hypoglossal) nerve. They registered successfully the healthy nerve activity of the zebra finch over sub-chronic timescales with the nanoclip implant in performance. In other words, a 3D-printed device was implanted into a living animal without harming the animal by the synthetic implant.

3D Printed Nanclip

3D Printed Implanted Nanclip



 

Both studies have practical implications in using 3D microprinting in the life sciences. In this sense Nanoscribe’s technology represent a viable combination of 3D printer and printable materials for the fabrication of biocompatible micro-objects.