Scientists have built a 3D Lego bioprinter that prints human skin

By | April 30, 2023

Supply of samples human tissue for biological research is not always easy. Although scientists find these samples through organ donation or of people who have been operated on, these are not sufficient for the investigation. There is also limited availability of the specific size and type of tissue samples required in many scientific studies.

A group of scientists from Cardiff University in Great Britain decided to tackle this problem by building their own low cost and an easily accessible printer capable of producing human tissue samples using one of the world’s most popular toys.

Your appearance 3D bioprinting has provided a possible solution to the difficulty of obtaining tissue samples. This technology consists of loading bioink, which contains living cells, into a cartridge. This, in turn, is loaded into the bioprinter, and once programmed, the bioprinter prints the bioink to form three-dimensional structures that aim to replicate the complex formation of biological tissue.

In contrast to the two-dimensional cell cultures grown in plates, which most scientists rely on for much of their research, bioprinters allow them to grow cells in three dimensions. And this better reproduces the complex architecture of human biology. In other words, bioprinting technology allows researchers to build more comparable models for the Study of healthy and diseased tissues.

However, the problem is that these machines are extremely expensive, so few research groups can cover such costs.

“That got us wondering if we could build our own at low cost. bioprinter. So we decided to do it with Lego,” write the scientists in their article published in The conversation.

“We also knew that Lego had already been used to create 3D printers. But what we didn’t know was whether we could take the basic idea of ​​a Lego 3D printer, which prints solid 3D structures out of plastic, and build one that could print soft biological material. The result must be precise, reliable and stable to be able to use it in our laboratory”, affirm the scientists.

The team set out to develop their own high-end, affordable bioprinter using standard Lego bricks, specifically the Lego Brainstorms and a laboratory bomb. An interdisciplinary team of engineers and biologists worked together to design, build, and program the bioprinter.

The bioprinter, which costs approx. 560 euro, it reaches the level of precision required for the production of fine biological material. The way it does it is extremely simple. A nozzle sprays a hydrogel-like substance, which is filled with cells, onto a plate. At the heart of the device is a Lego Mindstorms mini computer. This device moves the plate back and forth and from side to side while mechanically moving the nozzle up and down as it expels the hydrogel. These programmed movements create layers of cells to replicate the three-dimensional structure of human tissue, layer by layer.

The bioprinter is now being used to create layers of skin cells, with the aim of obtaining a full-scale skin model. It can also be modified using different types of nozzles for the print different types of cellscreating a variety of complexities in tissue samples.

“This is an exciting opportunity to mimic both healthy and diseased skin, examine existing treatments, and design new ones for various skin diseases,” the researchers write in their article.

The researchers have published here bioprinter manufacturing instructions.

“At a time when research funding is so limited, we offer an accessible and affordable open source alternative to vital equipment that is beyond the budget of most researchers. Simply put, we want our bioprinter to enable researchers to conduct innovative research, because this will lead to a better understanding of biology and further improvement in human health,” the researchers conclude.

SOURCE: The Conversation

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