Skip to comments.Bioprinting cartilage into people is doctor's goal
Posted on 02/08/2014 4:46:42 PM PST by 2ndDivisionVet
Researcher Darryl D'Lima of Scripps Clinic with his "bioprinter" adapted from an HP inkjet printer that can produce cartilage.
Californias stem cell agency, the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, awarded him $3.1 million to research the use of embryonic stem cells and artificial embryonic stem cells to generate replacement cartilage.
Stem cell researcher Jeanne Loring has collaborated with DLima on growing cartilage from stem cells. She described him as unique in the ability to incorporate many disciples of science and medicine.
Hes the only orthopedic surgeon I know who has the bandwidth to start thinking way outside the box, said Loring, of The Scripps Research Institute. Hes one of those people who may actually make a breakthrough. He may end up doing something that doesnt work at all, but hes going to throw himself completely into it.
Shaochen Chen, a professor in the department of nanoengineering at UC San Diego, also collaborated on research with DLima. While both work in bioprinting, they take different approaches, said Chen, who specializes in adapting nanomaterials.
Chen described DLima as a skilled scientist with the foresight to know which tools will prove useful.
He has a good vision for those new technologies. The impact could be pretty high. Chen is also a faculty member of the Institute of Engineering in Medicine and the Clinical Translational Research Institute at UCSD.
DLima and colleagues began their work with an HP Deskjet 500 inkjet printer, a model that went on the market in 1990. Getting printer cartridges for it proved a challenge; they eventually located one in China. HP itself helped by sending the researchers a much-prized universal printer head; it can emulate any of HPs inkjet printers.
DLima has demonstrated the basic technology with cow knee tissue and human bone chips kept alive in a nutrient bath. Over a period of months, the bioprinted cartilage stem cells mature and secrete a network of supporting fibers that give cartilage its smoothness and flexibility.
But no device now exists to print cartilage into human knee joints in an operating room environment. So DLima is talking with Invetech, an Australian company with a branch office in San Diego. Invetech is familiar with the field, having designed a bioprinter used by San Diegos Organovo.
It will take a couple of years to produce a working model, DLima said. During that time, his work is being funded by the Shaffer Family Foundation. The goal is to show proof of concept in an animal.
Bioprinting the three-dimensional structure of most tissues, such as muscle, is extremely challenging. Not only are several types of cells often present, but they are nourished through blood flowing through a complex network of arteries, capillaries and veins. That network requires an entirely different set of cells that must be precisely laid down inside the surrounding cells.
Organovo has avoided that problem by limiting the thickness of its tissue. The companys 3D liver tissue is 20 cells wide, still thin enough to be supplied through diffusion. This tissue is intended to be used for toxicology screening of drugs to assess their safety before being tested in people. Organovo says the tissue reproduces major metabolic functions of the liver for 30 days or more. It intends to make it available to drug companies by the end of this year.
Putting a slurry of cardiac cells into a 3D printer and making a functional human heart remains well in the realm of science fiction. But at Scripps Clinic in La Jolla, Dr. Darryl DLima and colleagues say theyve pretty much figured out the process of bioprinting a humbler but still necessary tissue, cartilage.
A physician who holds a doctorate in bioengineering from UC San Diego, DLima has designed a prototype bioprinter that makes living cartilage. The bioprinter, adapted from an old Hewlett-Packard inkjet printer, sprays out a mixture of cartilage progenitor cells and a liquid that congeals under ultraviolet light. It also bioprints bone cells, to be deposited where cartilage attaches to bone.
DLimas goal is to turn this technology into a true fix for knee injuries associated with cartilage damage or injuries. The tough and slippery tissue that cushions joints, cartilage doesnt regenerate well. As those with arthritis or a knee injury will attest, the lack of cartilage allows bone to grind on bone, causing excruciating pain.
The best medical technology can do now is to install artificial knee joints, a painful procedure that is not necessarily permanent. Even so, theres a multibillion-dollar market for knee replacements. And thanks to aging baby boomers and obesity, that market is projected to grow. The global knee replacement market brought in $6.9 billion in 2010, and is projected to reach nearly $11 billion by 2017.
DLima says several more years of work will be needed before his idea can be tried in people, but the main scientific challenges have been solved. Whats left is engineering. Instead of printing cartilage in a laboratory, DLima wants to print it directly into patients in the operating room.
Printing into the knee joint ensures a much closer fit between the new cartilage and existing cartilage than by attaching lab-grown cartilage that must be cut to fit, DLima said.
The cell-containing droplets are on the order of one picoliter, or one-billionth of a liter. Thats small enough to fill microscopic irregularities in the patients cartilage or bone.
It would be the equivalent of filling a pothole, he said. It would automatically fill the defect as youre printing it. Youre getting a fairly good mechanical integration into the tissue, which is very difficult for us to do when we do traditional transplants.
Another advantage would be that surgery could be done as needed.
We wouldnt have to store something off the shelf, DLima said. We wouldnt have to prepare it in advance, if it takes three to six weeks to make the tissue and plan for the day of surgery. All of this would be done on the day of surgery, on demand.
DLima brings expertise from a number of medical and research roles. Hes director of orthopedic research at Scripps Shiley Center for Orthopaedic Research and Education. Hes also an assistant professor in the division of arthritis research at The Scripps Research Institute and an associate professor at the Scripps Translational Science Institute, a unit of Scripps Health.
Cartilage is easier to bioprint because it lacks blood vessels, DLima said. The cells are nourished by diffusion through the surrounding fluid. That lack of blood supply is the reason cartilage has only a limited ability to repair itself.
Its complex enough that you need technology like 3D printing, but at the same time its not so complex that its extremely challenging, DLima said.
Moreover, the technology is somewhat agnostic as to which cells are used, he said. That means it might work with other types of cells.
Weve gotten interest from other researchers, wanting to print retinal cells, he said. The retina has some similarities to cartilage in that the photoreceptors and the neural cells of the retina dont require a blood supply. So we dont have to print microvasculature. And the retina is a mature tissue in that if you lose a photoreceptor, thats it. You dont grow a new one. So its fairly attractive for 3D printing.
y knees hope it works.
My guess right now is that the only thing he will accomplish is the wasting of tax dollars, just because wasting seems to be the main thing ever done with tax dollars.
y = My.
Maybe they can “bioprint” us some decent, moral people to run our government!
If it works I’m in. Left knee is trashed, can’t walk without pain the nexrt day.
Did you see the part about the retinas?
I did. All for it in either case. Unless they’re using embroyonic stem cells.
My guess is that it will be a decent fix for right now.
Printing up a true replacement equal to original cartilidge may be 5 years away but printing up a thin but respectable piece of cartilidge that lasts 3-4 years should be doable right now.
I think thick true replacement is hard, but thin temporary should be easy.
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Please, please let this be successful! My left knee is so bad and I cannot even think about a knee replacement!!!
You know, you think to yourself, what on earth can they come up with next? It seems like that have gone about as far as they can go, and then they come up with something like this.
Let’s hope it works! Apparently a Japanese company is perfecting a way to stimulate non-embryonic cells to “behave” like embryonic stem cells. Let’s pray that will end the use of embryonic stem cells once and for all.
Bad knee, hip, and L5 here. I’ll keep them until they go adult stem cell. I don’t even like them using this for the research portion.
“to research the use of embryonic stem cells and artificial embryonic stem cells to generate replacement cartilage.”
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