Scientists have developed a new 3D-printing process that uses strands of cow cartilage as bioink, an innovation that may help create tissue patches for worn-out joints in arthritis patients.
Cartilage is a good tissue to target for scale-up bioprinting because it is made up of only one cell type and has no blood vessels within the tissue. The tissue cannot repair itself.
Previous attempts at growing cartilage began with cells embedded in a hydrogel -a substance composed of polymer chains and about 90% water -that is used as a scaffold to grow the tissue. “Hydrogels don’t allow cells to grow as normal,” said Ibrahim T Ozbolat, associate professor at Pennsylvania State University , US.
This leads to tissues that do not have sufficient mechanical integrity.
The cartilage produced under the new experiment is very similar to native cow cartilage. The mechanical properties are inferior, but better than the one with hydrogel scaffolding.