I have not written a major post in maybe 4 months and the reasons are personal. However, what I will write will be major updates to our research.
In the last month, I was able to get new information on where the cutting edge of printing is actually at.
Here is what I have found. When I attended a 3D Printing Expo last year, I talked to multiple companies and all of them said that the their current 3D Printings can NOT be used to print human tissue. Almost all the printers could only handle ABS or PLA.
There was only maybe 1 or 2 hints that some company was out there making human tissue that can be implanted back in the body, and work en vivo. The main company that was mentioned was Organovo. I have been aware of Organovo for a while now.
The stories you hear about the biomedical team in Wake Forest University who printed out the ears show that the academic researchers are still being very cautious. However, I think we know that there is a much bigger potential here.
I recently came across this company based in China called Qingdao Unique Group, website www.sinounic.com who have one type of 3D Printer which has been purposely designed to print human tissue, layer by layer.
Now, they have purposely have said that their current model is to print out the tough, non-living organic scaffold, with injectors which add cells into the porous scaffold structure, which eventually overtakes the non-living scaffold. However, I can see that it has much more possibilites.
I managed to get a quote on one model that they are selling which is for $60,000 for one unit. I am not sure if that includes also the modifications that I asked for.
They will be attending this conference in Boston at the Wyndam, Beacon Hill from Jul 8-9 called the Organ-On-A-Chip World Conference & 3D Printing held by SelectBio. I plan to attend that conference and see just how far the various groups of biomedical researches in the universities around the world have actually gotten. The cost for a non-student from industry is about $1,300 just for a ticket but for a student it is only $300.
I am hoping that Dr. Robert T. Ballock, Jean Welter of Case Western University, and Warren Grayson at Johns Hopkins are able to attend something like this.
From a completely technical perspective, 3D Printing cartilage and bone is probably the easiest of all of the human tissues to print out and get correct. The application of Bio-printers to create functional growth plates just seems so obvious and easy.