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Utrecht Life Sciences Invests in Bioprinting Future

The future of medicine took a giant leap forward with the advent of bioprinting. Compared to the ethical quandaries surrounding cloning, bioprinting offers a no-strings-attached chance to build new organs, bone and tissue in precisely the quantities required and manufactured from a patient’s own cells.

Bioprinting research is ongoing around the world, including by companies in the US, such as Organovo, which is developing methods of delivering batches of living tissue for medical trials. In the Netherlands, Utrecht Life Sciences is preparing to join the ranks of bioprinting pioneers with the foundation of its Biofabrication Facility. 

Utrecht Life Sciences is a public-private operation that includes partners in the government, academia, and business. The research center boasts education and training facilities alongside its laboratories for students seeking degrees in the medical field.

The Biofabrication Facility will begin as two clean rooms dedicated to the construction of bio-scaffolding and 3D tissue construct development. Scaffolding would allow doctors to build bio-supports around areas of weakness or breaks in bones, potentially speeding up the healing process. The supports would be constructed from samples of the patient’s own bone or cartilage, and would be absorbed by the body when its job was completed.

Similarly, new tissue grown from stem cells could be placed in an area where trauma has occurred. The healthy tissue would merge with the patient’s body, replacing missing tissue and encouraging recovery. Burn victims are one potential candidate for this procedure, which would eliminate painful grafts.

Along with the usual apparatus of biological science, the Biofabrication Facility will also include a number of different additive manufacturing (AM) systems, including an Ultimaker for standard 3D printing requirements. More advanced AM systems will include a SysEng BioScaffolder bioprinter, an integrated bioprinter with multiple print heads, and a stereolithography system for prototyping. The facility will also be constructing its own custom-built melt electrospinning writing setup, which will allow researchers to work with micrometer-sized fiber deposition with controlled architectures.

The new facility will open for use later in 2014, and says it will be:

A leading European knowledge center in the area of biofabrication, bringing together engineers, materials scientists, cell biologists, clinicians and commercial partners to create a fostering environment for development, evaluation and clinical translation of 3D tissue constructs. The opportunities range from small prototyping jobs to co-development of large research projects, facilitated by the presence of key technologies and expertise (researchers and technical staff).

Below you’ll find a video about Utrecht Life Sciences.

Source: Utrecht Life Sciences

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About John Newman

John Newman is a contributing editor to Desktop Engineering magazine. He covers the rapid prototyping and manufacturing beat.

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