In this segment, we’ll look at new research into using inkjet technology to build artificial tissues. Writing in the journal Science, Paul Calvert describes efforts to convert the common home office technology of inkjet printing to manipulate living cells. Using printing technology is of interest to biomaterials researchers because it is a precise, simple, rapid and clean process that avoids contamination. Researchers have successfully printed bacteria, yeast and animal cells. What will it take to move from those studies to more complex tissue? Is it realistic to imagine ‘printing’ living tissue?
At the present, inkjet printing of living cells is an ‘academic’ issue, without an immediate application. Building artificial tissues for more bio-compatible prosthetics is still a far-off possibility for being realized. In fact, in the interview, Calvert states explicitly that this new technique has not gotten much beyond the finding that cells actually survive the process. But, if this technological development becomes more routine, it could open all sorts of doors in other areas of biomedical research.