3D Tissue Inks: Multifunctional 3D Printing Materials Platform for Bone Graft Substitutes

  • Shah, Ramille Nirav (PD/PI)

Project: Research project

Project Details


Overview. Our technology platform allows for the synthesis and 3D-printing of customizable or off-the-shelf products that closely mimic tissue such as bone. This is achieved through the use of our proprietary inks designed to be both highly bioactive and 3D-printing compatible. Our technology is derived from expertise across multiple disciplines including materials science, bioengineering, and medicine. Ultimately, we aim to commercialize this technology by producing 3D-printed bone grafts for use by orthopaedic and craniomaxillofacial surgeons in an array of surgical applications. We aim to engage potential patients, surgeons (end users), hospital administrators, investors and potential partners to evaluate the commercial potential of this technology and determine the most promising clinical indication to first target. Through interviews and survey data, we will formulate a well-designed, practical strategy for bringing our unique technology to market. Intellectual Merit. Unlike other high ceramic-content biomaterials, which are brittle, require high temperature processing, and have limited bioactivity, our patent-pending material, Hyperelastic Bone (HB), which is comprised entirely of FDA approved components, has elastic and formable qualities and can be rapidly fabricated at room temperature from liquid inks into complex, custom or mass-produced, implantable structures using an extrusion-based 3D-printing platform. In vitro studies using human mesenchymal stem cells reveal that HB is highly supportive of cellular function. HB seeded stem cells readily proliferate to quickly coat all available surfaces and fill the inter-scaffold pore volume. HB is also inherently osteoinductive, promoting osteogenic differentiation of stem cells, including extracellular matrix (ECM) deposition and de novo mineralization without the need for additional osteogenic chemical or mechanical factors. Histological and electron microscopy imaging of subcutaneously implanted HB scaffolds in a mouse model, compared to established hot-melt 3D-printed HA-polymer scaffolds, reveal that host tissue more readily integrates within and vascularizes throughout the HB scaffolds without any observable host immune response. 3D-printed HB’s unique mechanical and biological properties, combined with the ease of fabrication, potential for scalability, and low material and processing costs make this material system a very promising new osteogenic bone substitute for orthopaedic, dental, and craniomaxillofacial tissue regeneration applications. Broader Impact. This technology has the potential to disrupt the design and production of medical implants. 3D printing represents a powerful tool that can address many issues in healthcare. The ability to fabricate patient-specific implants comprised of bioactive and functional materials provides a novel method of delivering personalized medicine. This has the potential to improve patient care and quality of life, while reducing costs, through faster recovery times and fewer surgical complications. Additionally, our materials platform provides a new class of bone substitutes with highly advantageous biological and physical properties that have never been seen before with existing bone graft products on the market. Validating our technology platform can impact many potential markets, demonstrating that new 3D-printable, highly functional materials and devices are ready for commercialization and mass-manufacturing.  
Effective start/end date12/15/145/31/17


  • National Science Foundation (IIP-1508285)


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