Swedish researchers at Sahlgrenska Academy and Chalmers University of Technology have successfully induced human cartilage cells to live and grow in an animal model, using 3D bioprinting.
The results will move development closer to a potential future in which it will be possible to help patients by giving them new body parts through 3D bioprinting.
The results were recently presented in the journal, Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery Global Open.
‘This is the first time anyone has printed human-derived cartilage cells, implanted them in an animal model and induced them to grow,’ explained Paul Gatenholm, Professor of Biopolymer Technology at Chalmers University of Technology.
Professor Gatenholm leads the research team working with the new biomaterial based on nanocellulose at the Wallenberg Wood Science Centre.
He has been working with Lars Kölby, senior lecturer at Sahlgrenska Academy and specialist consultant with the Department of Plastic Surgery at Sahlgrenska University Hospital.
The researchers printed a hydrogel of nanocellulose mixed with human-derived cartilage cells – a so called construct. They used a 3D bioprinter manufactured by Cellink, a Gothenburg-based startup firm whose bio-ink is a result of research by Paul Gatenholm. Immediately after printing, the construct was implanted in mice.
The researchers can report three positive results of the animal study:
- Human cartilage tissue has grown in an animal model
- Vascularisation, i.e., the formation of blood vessels, between the materials
- Strong stimulation of proliferation and neocartilage formation by human stem cells
‘What we see after 60 days is something that begins to resemble cartilage. It is white and the human cartilage cells are alive and producing what they are supposed to. We have also been able to stimulate the cartilage cells by adding stem cells, which clearly promoted further cell division,’ said Lars Kölby.