Article Image
IPFS News Link • Robots and Artificial Intelligence

Novel robotic system can 3D print cells onto organs inside the body

•, By Paul McClure

In recent years, using 3D printing technology to create biomaterials that incorporate living cells (bioinks) and drugs has emerged to treat a range of conditions by creating, for example, cardiac or gastrointestinal patches.

Currently, bioprinting is used mostly for research and for developing new drugs. It requires the use of large 3D printers to create constructs that are surgically implanted into the body, which carries its own risks, including tissue injury and the risk of infection. Because biomaterials are usually soft, fragile structures, they have the potential to be damaged by manual handling during the implantation process.

Another common challenge in using externally created 3D constructs is that there can be a mismatch between the construct and the tissue surface it is implanted onto. Implanting biomaterials directly onto target tissues provides a promising solution.

Engineers from UNSW have developed a miniature, flexible soft robotic arm that can be inserted into the body like an endoscope and deliver biomaterials directly onto the surface of organs and tissues.

The proof-of-concept device, called F3DB, is externally controlled and comprises a long, flexible robotic arm, at the end of which sits a highly maneuverable swivel head that "prints" the bioink through a miniature, multidirectional nozzle.

"Existing 3D bioprinting techniques require biomaterials to be made outside the body and implanting that into a person would usually require large open-field surgery which increases infection risks," said Dr Thanh Ngo Do, corresponding author of the study.

Agorist Hosting