Scientists have built a Lego 3D bio-printer that prints human skin

Scientists have built a Lego 3D bio-printer that prints human skin

The supply of samples human tissue for biological research is not always easy. Although scientists find these samples through organ donation or people who have undergone surgery, this is not enough for research. Also there are limited availability the specific size and type of tissue samples required in many scientific studies.

A group of scientists from Cardiff University in Britain decided to tackle this problem by building their own low cost and an easily accessible printer capable of producing human tissue samples using one of the world’s most popular toys.

His look 3D bio-printing provided a possible solution to the difficulty of obtaining tissue samples. This technology consists of loading bio-ink, containing living cells, into a cartridge. This in turn is loaded into the bio-printer and once programmed, the bio-printer prints the bio-ink to form three-dimensional structures that aim to replicate the complex formation of biological tissues.

Unlike the two-dimensional cell cultures grown in plates, which most scientists rely on for much of their research, bioprinters allow them to grow cells in three dimensions. And this best reproduces the complex architecture of human biology. In other words, bioprinting technology allows researchers to build more comparable models for the study of healthy and diseased tissues.

However, the problem is that these machines are extremely expensive, so few research groups can cover such costs.

“It got us thinking if we could build our own low-cost model. bioprinter. So we decided to do it using Lego”, write the scientists in their article published in The conversation.

“We also knew that Lego had already been used to create 3D printers. But what we didn’t know was if we could take the basic idea of ​​a Lego 3D printer – which prints solid plastic 3D structures – and build one that could print soft biological material. The result must be precise, reliable and stable in order to be able to use it in our laboratory,” explain the scientists.

The team set out to develop their own affordable, high-end bio-printer using standard Lego bricks, specifically the Lego Mindstorms and a laboratory pump. An interdisciplinary team of engineers and biologists worked together to design, build and program the bioprinter.

The bioprinter, which costs approximately 560 euro, achieves the level of precision required for the production of fine biological material. The way it does this is extremely simple. A nozzle sprays a hydrogel-like substance, which is full of cells, onto a plate. At the heart of the device is a mini Lego Mindstorms computer. This device moves the plate back and forth and side to side while mechanically moving the nozzle up and down as it expels the hydrogel. These programmed movements create layers of cells to replicate the three-dimensional structure of human tissue, layer by layer.

The bioprinter is now being used to create layers of skin cells, aiming for a large-scale skin model. It can also be modified by using different types of nozzles for the print different types of cellscreating a variety of complexities in tissue samples.

“This is an exciting opportunity to mimic both healthy and diseased skin, to examine existing treatments, and to design new ones for various skin conditions,” the researchers write in their paper.

Researchers have published here the manufacturing instructions for the bio-printer.

“At a time when research funding is so tight, we provide an open source, accessible, and affordable alternative to vital equipment that is beyond most researchers’ budgets. Quite simply, we want our bioprinter to enable researchers to conduct groundbreaking research because it will lead to better understanding of biology and further improvement in human health,” the researchers conclude.

Scientists have built a Lego 3D bio-printer that prints human skin

SOURCE: The Conversation

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