Stem cells from a healthy donor cornea were mixed with alginate and collagen to create a printable bio-ink. A 3D printer extruded the bio-ink in concentric circles to form the shape of a human cornea in less then 10 minutes. The stem cells then grew.
According to Connon: “Our unique gel – a combination of alginate and collagen – keeps the stem cells alive whilst producing a material which is stiff enough to hold its shape but soft enough to be squeezed out the nozzle of a 3D printer. This builds upon our previous work in which we kept cells alive for weeks at room temperature within a similar hydrogel. Now we have a ready to use bio-ink containing stem cells allowing users to start printing tissues without having to worry about growing the cells separately.”
The team demonstrated that they could build a cornea to match a patient’s unique specifications, but said that it will be several years before this might be used for transplants.
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