Challenges of 3D bioprinting
Despite the successful studies and reported outstanding research efforts, the goal of 3D bioprinted organs has yet to be accomplished and there are several challenges which must be overcome.
1. Bioprinter technology
Bioprinter technology needs to increase resolution and speed and should be compatible with a wide spectrum of biocompatible materials. Higher resolution will enable better interaction and control in the 3D microenvironment. Speeding up could build the opportunity to reach a commercially acceptable level and allow the process to be scaled up.
Biomaterials are undoubtedly the primary limitation of this technology. Today, we are limited to several biocompatible synthetic and natural bio-inks. Synthetic materials provide good mechanical strength and can mimic naturally-derived materials, which are particularly adept at promoting cell attachment, proliferation, and differentiation.
3. Choice of the cell source
The choice of cell source also determines the success of the printed construct. Stem cells have the ability to differentiate into multiple different cell types and can build different tissues. Hence, their differentiation and interaction with the scaffold material are essential.
4. Vasculature of the printed construct
Another fundamental issue is the vasculature of the printed construct. In vivo 3D tissue is constantly fed by oxygen and nutrients. If the tissue is constructed using a bioprinter, then it also needs a vascular system. Diffusion by itself will only work up to 150-micrometer thickness. Beyond this thickness, the tissue will not develop properly.
These challenges will need to be addressed down this novel technology becomes fully operational and effective.
Li, Jipeng et al. “Recent advances in bioprinting techniques: approaches, applications, and future prospects.” Journal of Translational Medicine (2016)
Zhang, B., Luo, Y., Ma, L. et al. “3D bioprinting: an emerging technology full of opportunities and challenges“ Bio-design and Manufacturing (2018)
Veysi Malkoc “Challenges and the future of 3D bioprinting” Journal of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (2018)