High-Resolution 3D-Printing Major Breakthrough in Biomedicine: 3D-Printing of Living Cells for Bioapplications
The combination of a 2Photon 3D-printer with an innovative hydrogel-based bioink allows the direct printing of 3D structures containing living cells at both the meso- and microscale.
Vienna/Austria — Developed by Up Nano, the Nano One Bio is a printer based on the Nano One range of laser-powered 2Photon 3D-printers that are able to build structures across twelve orders of magnitude. A new hydrogel has been developed with Belgian company Xpect INX, a spin-off in foundation specialized in the development of biocompatible materials for the 3D-(bio-)printing industry. It is the only commercially available resin that allows embedding living cells straight from a culture plate within highly precise 3D-printed structures for biological applications.
Two-dimensional cell cultures have been the standard in pharmaceutical preclinical R&D and in biomedical research in general, for many decades. However, growing evidence demonstrates that these models poorly represent the cellular interaction at the 3D level in living systems. Therefore, drug development based on 2D systems is often misguided, resulting in billions of dollars of unfruitful R&D costs. So far, building complex and highly precise 3D structures with embedded living cells has been hampered by lack of suitable materials and printing systems. Thanks to the joint development of a novel hydrogel-based Bioink by Xpect INX and Up Nano in combination with the new printing model by Up Nano this endeavor has now turned into reality.
The companies co-developed X Hydrobio INX U200, a highly biocompatible hydrogel, and at the same time we offer a 2Photon 3D-printing device that provides the largest range of printed dimensions on the market. The water-soluble hydrogel allows transfer of cell cultures from 2D culture plates into complex 3D structures. The gelatin-based hydrogel has been specifically developed for the encapsulation of multiple cell types thereby allowing the generation of complex 3D microtissues. It mimics the natural cellular environment and is biodegradable, thereby allowing the cells to gradually substitute the material with newly formed tissue. The gel solves the issues encountered with standard growth media on which cell cultures have been incubated in a 2D manner. Following this, the hydrogel containing living cells can be directly fed into the Nano One Bio — a highly precise 2Photon 3D-printer developed by Up Nano. Extensive research showed that the 780 nm red light laser of the Nano One Bio is not harmful to living cells, even at the exceptionally high power used by the Nano One printers. In fact, the high laser power which is unique to Up Nano’s 2Photon 3D-printing systems, allows for the use of optics that enable the fast production of cm large structures with exceptionally high precision, down to nanoscale.
The combination of X Hydrobio INX U200 and the Nano One Bio opens up completely new possibilities in biomedical R&D, both in industry and academia. Recognizing the enormous potential, Prof. James J. Yoo, Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine (USA) decided to advice Up Nano on future developments. The renowned expert for tissue engineering and biofabrication joins the company’s Advisory Board as of April 2021 and will guide the continuous further development of novel applications for biomedical R&D. Production of labs-on-chip will now be possible not only with an unprecedented precision, but also directly with embedded living cells — thereby saving time and improving the significance of the results. Surface structures resembling natural tissues (biomimetic structures) can now be created, allowing for near natural interaction between the living cells and their growth environment. “Cells growing in 2D on a culture plate on standard growth media encounter a far from natural physical environment and a lack of interaction with surrounding cells in all directions, as observed in living tissues”, explains Denise Mandt, Head of Marketing and Business Development and co-founder of Up Nano. It has been acknowledged in biomedical R&D that such lack of 3D cell-to-cell-contact negatively impacts the interpretation of results gained in cell models for human applications.
The Nano One Bio in combination with the newly developed X Hydrobio INX U200 kit has the potential to significantly change this approach. Pharmaceutical companies and research institutions will be in the position to design cell models that mimic natural growth conditions in the human body. In fact, the Nano One Bio allows the production of surface structures with highest precision and/or the design of complex 3D-scaffolding with embedded cells in the cm-range. Thanks to specific optical pathways, optimized scan algorithms and a proprietary adaptive resolution technology, the Nano One systems also offer significant faster production times than other systems — advantages that have been recognized by customers on industry and academia alike. The range-extension for customers in biomedical research has already been met with great interest.