3D printing of biocompatible materials and living cells

The development of additive manufacturing technique, also known as three-dimensional (3D) printing, has opened new innovation opportunities by its wide spectrum of applications from engineering to medicine. In fact, recent advances in material research allow the printing of biocompatible materials and living cells, paving the way for the reconstruction of complex 3D functional living tissues and eventually organs suitable for transplants.

Toxicology tests and bioassays are essential tools for bringing a new drug to the market, but they require on one side in-vitro assays for observing the drug influence on a two-dimensional (2D) cell culture, and on the other side animal testing to assess drug efficiency on a complex living organism. Nevertheless, it has been shown that the changes in conformation can influence dramatically the cell reaction to external stimuli. For ethical reasons, animal testing is becoming more and more controversial, pushing toward alternatives to limit its use while maintaining a high reliability. 

The Integrative Tissue Engineering (ITE) program uses a combination of cells and materials engineering processes in specific biological and chemical environments to develop organic-like tissues for testing purposes. Addressing the additional complexities required by the bio-printing compared to non-biological printing (i.e. choice of biomaterials, cell types, cell gentle manipulation, growth factors) is a key factor involving the integration of technologies and competencies from the fields of engineering, material science, biology, physics and medicine. 

In collaboration with the iPrint (Innosquare SA), SICHH aims to develop leading-edge technologies in 3D bioprinting, such as bioinks to allow substitution of animal testing for bioassay and toxicology tests. These technologies will be directly applied to internal projects devoted to the development of new tissue for regeneration (AMTR) and biocompatibility-testing of new materials. 

Our laboratory is equipped with 2 cryogenic tanks to store safely and over a long time, tissues and cells. The P2 lab allows to work under strict conditions of sterility, with his both laminar flows, as well as 2 CO2-controled incubators.