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Breakthrough in Biofabrication of replacement body parts

The QUT (Queensland University of Technology) biofabrication team has been making a name for itself through printing mechanically reinforced, tissue engineered constructs in order to restore the human body parts, in 3D. As published in Nature Communications, the biomedical engineers explained how they had strengthen soft hydrogels by printing a 3D scaffold.

According to Professor Dietmar W. Hutmacher, from QUT's Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation, weak structures are turned into mechanically strong ones through fibre reinforcement. “Such is the case with articular cartilage tissue, which is formed by stiff and strong collagen fibers intertwined within a very weak gel matrix of proteoglycans,” Professorl; Hutmacher said.

Professor Hutmacher also stated that by converging this concept with tissue engineering, it would be likely to learn how to choose an effective combination of matrix and reinforcement structure to achieve an enhanced mechanical properties for engineering body parts. He said that hydrogels were chosen because they featured excellent biological properties.

Despite of having these properties, hydrogels alone still can’t meet the requirements for a successful output for the tissue regeneration of the musculoskeletal system. “Our international biofabrication research team has found a way to reinforce these soft hydrogels via a 3D printed scaffold structure so that their stiffness and elasticity are close to that of cartilage tissues.” Professor Hutmacher confimed that the team had introduced high- porosity microfiber networks that are printed using a new technique called “met electrospinning writing”.

They discovered that the hardness of the gel composites increased up to 54 times, as compared to the hydrogels or microfiber scaffolds alone. “Computational modelling has shown that we can use these 3D-printed microfibres in different hydrogels and a large range of tissue engineering applications.”

Professor Hutmacher is the head of the QUT biofabrication team which is one of the three of world’s leading research universities in 3D printing in replacement of body parts. They also offer the first international masters in biofabrication where graduates earn a masters degree from an Australian ad European university.


1. Breakthrough in 3-D printing of replacement body parts April 29, 2015 by Niki Widdowson

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