3D printing in healthcare is used to produce living human cells or tissues.
A patient’s own cells are typically taken as a sample and allowed to grow and expand in a sterile incubator or bioreactor outside of the body before being used in the 3D printing process.
Then, “media,” or nutrients, are given to these cells along with a gel that serves as glue.
This mixture is then loaded into a printing chamber to create tissues by layering the substance.
The knee is one of the body’s largest and most complex joints,
but it is also one of the most vulnerable to injury. The tearing of the meniscus, a piece of cartilage in the knee that has the shape of a half-moon, is one of the most frequent orthopaedic injuries.
The two menisci in each knee allow the joint to move freely.
The less-than-ideal current treatments for a torn meniscus involve removing or repairing the damaged segment, which can eventually increase the risk of arthritis or knee replacement as the affected joint loses its cushioning.
Redwire Space researchers are using the International Space Station (ISS) National Laboratory’s microgravity environment to enhance patient care on Earth and create more efficient ways of treating torn tissues.
In November, Redwire’s upgraded BioFabrication Facility (or BFF) was sent into orbit.
Now that it has been set up, the BFF is prepared to test its printing capabilities by creating a full-sized, 3D-printed human meniscus.
The meniscus tissue will be printed in space using supplies that will launch on SpaceX’s upcoming 27th Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) mission, and it will then be sent back to Earth for analysis. Because gravity has an impact on printing soft tissues on Earth,
Redwire is sending its bioprinter into space.
3D printing in Space
Rich Boling, a Redwire vice president, called the BFF a “game-changing technology” that could have a big impact on how people are treated in the future.
“Printed tissues could be used as models for drug discovery,
opening up new ways to test therapeutics in addition to being implanted in patients.”
A partial meniscus and cardiac tissue were printed by the BFF in 2019,
which will be built upon in the investigation to print a full human meniscus.
The team’s improved imaging system and upgraded BFF,
which allow for better temperature control while printing, will be used in the following iteration.
Boling claims that provide the business with the chance to continuously enhance the printing apparatus, aiding Redwire in realizing its ultimate objective of printing entire organs in space.
BFF may prove to be a useful tool for drug efficacy testing shortly,
even though that achievement is probably many years away.
The facility can be used to print and cultivate organoids,
which are synthetic versions of human organs.
These organoids can be used to test novel drug candidates,
enabling researchers to gather useful information that will advance tissue engineering,
disease modelling, and drug development.