South Korean researchers have successfully developed a technology to apply 3D printing to high value-added biomedical materials that can be used for artificial joints and artificial blood vessels.
The National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) announced on Oct. 28 that the research team led by Hyun jin-ho, professor of Seoul National University (SNU), developed the technology to build “bacterial cellulose,” which is acclaimed as a biomedical material, in 3-dimensional printing.
Bacterial cellulose, which is a major component of the bacterial cell wall, is widely used for biomedical applications like artificial organs as it demonstrates excellent biocompatibility.
However, it has not been applied to various areas yet as bacteria requires oxygen to biosynthesize cellulose nanofibers. It is only used for production of nanocellulose structures in the form of mat on the surface of the culture fluid.
The research team induced the biosynthesis of bacterial cellulose by injecting bacteria-laden ink into the inside of solid matrix, successfully overcoming the morphological limitations of the existing mat form.
That technology can supply oxygen from all directions of ink as it enables the synthesis to be carried within solid particles unlike the existing printing method of synthesizing on the flat sheet. This makes it easy to create empty conduits, and consequently it can be widely used in a tissue engineering field including artificial vessels and nerve conduits, said the researchers.
The SNU professor Hyun jin-ho said, “We diversify and utilize the forms of bacterial cellulose with 3d printers that print in ink containing bacteria within solid matrix, and as this technology helps us to overcome the morphological limitations of the existing bacterial cellulose hydrogel, it is highly likely to use it as a high value-added material in medicine.”
The research finding was published in the renowned international journal of Nature Communications (on Oct. 11), and it is the result of the research carried with support from the Ministry of Science and ICT and the National Research Foundation.