The bioprinting of organs has been seeing a bit of renaissance in recent years. With the proliferation of newer bioinks and other materials, functional replacement organs are rapidly becoming a reality. In this same vein, Bay Area biotechnology company Prellis Biologics, has reported record speeds in tissue 3D printing having its holographic technology. They claim to be able to produce complex, 3D printed kidney vessels within half a day’s time.
The 3D printer uses a holographic system to bioprint capillaries and scaffolds for the kidney’s vascular system. Prellis processes the biomaterials with a laser-based process able to cure liquid to solid in under 5 milliseconds of exposure. Additionally, the live cell matter is part of the print material, as opposed to (typically) post-seeded methods. The method makes use of a far-red laser light to cure the material, allowing for an impressive level of resolution, coming in at 0.05 microns, a necessity in bioprinting things as small as vessels and tissue.
Achieving a Full 3D Printed Kidney
There are still major difficulties in producing a full kidney but this research is a massive leap forward. Particularly, much effort continues in recreating the winding proximal tubules – the microscopic veins which comprise the bottom of a kidney. This has made the kidney a lucrative goal for any bioprinting company worth its salt.
The company has stated that it’s goal is to print the entire vascular system of the kidney within 12 hours. They are looking to develop custom optical systems to boost their capabilities. While the current system is very quick, the current configuration of the device is limiting in certain ways.
Prellis’ work definitely presents a way forward due to the inherent benefits of the process. Aside from the high resolution it also provides the necessary speed. If the method were not fast enough, the cells would die out because they die within half an hour without nutrients.