brought himself up to speed on biolog- ics. “You can create thin tissues, but if you try to do it too thick, you can’t do it without getting the nutrients in and the waste out,” he said. Scientists have to keep the cells

happy, get them to go where they want them to go, and be able to repeat the process, Wallace said. “You know they’ve got to be alive, proliferate and do their function.” In fact, in a concept demonstration

that would be of interest to scientists working on tissue engineering, Mi- croFab made a 3D polymer structure mimicking a blood vessel network. While the structure has branches as small as 120µm wide, it’s made of solid, non-resorbable polymer. A simi- lar structure, with the same dimen- sions but with hollow branches, could be printed with bioabsorbable polymer and used as a form to support endothelial cells to make blood vessels for transplant.

“It’s not so clear which materials are

going to end up being a good substi- tute for the natural things we have in the body,” Cabrera said. Cabrera’s company in March launched a wiki, entitled “Build With Life.” The page includes information about es- tablished biotechnologies, methods for tissue fabrication, advances in biology and in the ability to design and engineer living things. The wiki entry’s home page seeks

contributions that would “add momen- tum to a growing movement aimed at adding transparency and enabling col- laborations across biology.” McDaniel, a Certified Health Insur-

Cellink claims to be the first commercial seller of bioink.

ance Associate and former insurance company marketing executive, thinks about how having an open database would facilitate getting engineered tis-

sues and organs into people much sooner. “If they know what’s been done and what’s been

Machine usability needs work Bioprinter makers have to keep in mind not only the biologic properties of their “ink” but also tool design that makes life easier in the lab and promotes collaboration, said Danny Cabrera, CEO of BioBots. His company’s desktop machines retail for $10,000 and

are used in academia and industry to fabricate “3D living tissues of all kinds,” including skin, bone, cartilage, lung and heart, he said. Cabrera said that, typically, a machine’s human interfac-

es are bad and installation takes a long time, both of which exclude a lot of people from using the technology. “I haven’t seen a single one [of my competitors’] that’s

been a great experience,” Cabrera said. “BioBots’ is de- signed to actually be fun to use. It might seem like a detail, but it’s actually a huge part of why people use it.”

Information-sharing tools emerge Cabrera and SME’s McDaniel both said there’s a need

for an open-access materials database so individual re- searchers don’t have to start from the beginning to figure out which cells and tissues work best with which scaffold materials, for example.

proven, and where to find the information, it’s going to get them quicker to an evidence-based outcome,” she said. “Which is going to get it quicker to an accepted practice and outside of being considered experimental and so it would be eligible for reimbursement.” Additionally, two peer-reviewed medical journals are

emerging as tools for sharing information. The International Journal of Bioprinting is a biannual,

open-access journal whose first edition was published last year. Penn State’s Ozbolat is on its editorial board. Bioprinting is scheduled for a first edition this year.

Patient privacy confounds Another issue medical bioprinting faces is related to

patient privacy, McDaniel said. She and a committee that both Atala and Ozbolat sit on, SME Medical Additive Manufacturing/3D Printing Workgroup, are concerned with bioprinting file formats and ensuring compliance with HIPAA, among other issues. HIPAA, which carries stiff penalties for infractions, was enacted to protect patient privacy. McDaniel believes embedding a patient’s name in his file

will better guarantee the patient’s privacy. But, she said, the standard file formats used in bioprinting, such as .stl, are for coordinates and data, not patient names and information.


Photo courtesy Cellink

Summer 2016

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