Bioprinting for Regenerative Medicine


following up on my previous post (more than six years ago!)

Anthony Atala is a pediatric surgeon, urologist and directs the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine (WFIRM) in North Carolina. Together with 400 colleagues and in a work that spans more than three decades, he has successfully implanted in human patients a variety of tissues regenerated from the patient’s own cells. Dr. Atala talked to about ways to translate the science of regenerative medicine into clinical therapy and the importance of adopting new technologies, as well as some of the challenges.

“Back in the 90’s we created by hand, even without using the printer, bladders, skin, cartilage, urethra, muscle and vaginal organs, and later implanted them successfully in patients. The printer automated what we were already doing and scaled it up making some of the processes easier. Still, the technology has its own challenges. With hand made constructs you have more control as you are creating the tissue, but with the printed structure everything has to be built in before it is created, so that you have to have the whole plan and information ready to go once you push that ‘start’ button”.

The WFIRM is working to grow tissues and organs and develop healing cell therapies for more than 40 different areas of the body, from kidney and trachea to cartilage and skin. Dr. Atala and his team of scientists have been first in the world to implant lab-grown tissues and organs into patients. Starting in 1990 with most of their research and implanting the first structures at the end of that decade, using a 3D printer to build a synthetic scaffold of a human bladder, which they then coated with cells taken from their patients. New research at WFIRM shows innovative wound healing through the use of a bedside 3D skin printer.

“Today, we continue to develop replacement tissues and organs, and are also working to speed up the availability of these treatments to patients. The ultimate goal is to create tissues for patients. Part of that is taking a very small piece of the patients tissue from the organ that we are trying to reconstruct, like muscle or blood vessels, only to expand the cells outside of the body and then use them to create the organ or structure along with a scaffold or a hydrogel which is the glue that holds the cells together. We have been doing this for quite some time with patients and 16 years ago we realized that we needed to scale up the technology and automate it to work with thousands of patients at a time, so we started thinking about 3D printers, and began using the typical desktop inkjet printer which was modified in-house to print cells into a 3D shape”.

The living cells were placed in the wells of the ink cartridge and the printer was programmed to print them in a certain order. The printer is now part of the permanent collection of the National Museum of Health and Medicine. According to Dr. Atala, all the printers at the WFIRM continue to be built in-house specifically to create tissues, so that they are highly specialized and able to create cells without damaging the tissue as it gets printed. Inside the institute, more than 400 scientists in the fields of biomedical and chemical engineering, cell and molecular biology, biochemistry, pharmacology, physiology, materials science, nanotechnology, genomics, proteomics, surgery and medicine work to try to develop some of the most advanced functional organs for their patients. At WFRIM they are focusing on personalized medicine, whereby the scientists use the sample tissue from the patient they are treating, grow it and implant it back to avoid rejection. Dr. Atala claims that “these technologies get tested extensively before they are implanted into a patient”, and that “it could take years or even decades of research and investigation before going from the experimental phase to the actual trial in humans. Our goal for the coming decade is to keep implanting tissues in patients, however, the most important thing for us is that we temper peoples expectations because these tissues come out very slowly and they come out one at a time, so we don’t give false hopes and provide the technology to patients who really need them. Working with over 40 different tissues and organs, means that about 10 applications of this technologies are already in patients. The research we have done helps us categorize tissues under order of complexity, so we know that flat structures (like skin) are the least complex; tubular structures (such as blood vessels) have the second level of complexity, and hollow non-tubular organs, including the bladder or stomach, have the third level of complexity because the architecture of the cells are manifold. Finally, the most complex organs are solid ones, like the heart, the liver and kidneys, which require more cells per centimeter”.

creativity is free and 3D-printable


In line with their mission to create a better and healthier world, Materialise designed a hands-free 3D-printed door opener. This is intended to help minimize the unavoidable daily task of opening and closing doors and ultimately decrease the spread of germs like the coronavirus. 

The design file is free for anyone to download on Materialise official website, making it possible to 3D print locally at factories around the world. On the Materialise online shop it is also possible to order a pack of four with screws included. 

You can reduce the spread of germs during your daily tasks easily just by fastening the openers to your door handles. Help do your part to minimize risky contact and make a positive change!

In order to make this solution available to as many as possible, Materialise are introducing additional designs, including openers that fit door handles of various shapes and sizes as well as options that are smaller and therefore more affordable to print. Materialise’s Design and Engineering team is continuing to work on more variations, so check back regularly to find more models.

Leachy ou Reachy ?

Dans le cadre d’un projet de recherche, Pollen Robotics et l’INCIA ont créé en 2017 Reachy, un bras robotique bio-inspiré reprenant la taille et les mobilité d’un bras adulte à 7 degrés de liberté. Reachy est destiné à être une plateforme de recherche et d’expérimentation permettant, par exemple, d’explorer de nouvelles interactions ou encore les problématiques liées à la commande dans des espaces de grandes dimensions. Open source, imprimé en 3D et modulaire, il est conçu pour pouvoir facilement s’adapter à différent setups expérimentaux !

reachyandleachyAujourd’hui Reachy est disponible dans une nouvelle version qui inclue:

  • une mécanique totalement revue permettant la réalisation de mouvements lisses et précis,
  • la cinématique inverse et directe,
  • la possibilité d’ajouter une main faite par OpenBionics,
  • une version bras gauche appelée Leachy

À ne pas rater le site web officiel de Pollen Robotics 🙂


3-D scanning with water

source: this website

A global team of computer scientists and engineers have developed an innovative technique for 3D shape reconstruction. This new approach to 3D shape acquisition is based on the well-known fluid displacement discovery by Archimedes and turns modeling surface reconstruction into a volumetric problem. Most notably, their method accurately reconstructs even hidden parts of an object that typical 3D laser scanners are not able to capture.

3D scannerTraditional 3D shape acquisition or reconstruction methods are based on optical devices, most commonly, laser scanners and cameras that successfully sample the visible shape surface. But this common approach tends to be noisy and incomplete. Most devices can only scan what is visible to them but hidden parts of an object remain inaccessible to the scanner’s line of sight. For instance, a typical laser scanner cannot accurately capture the belly or underside of an elephant statue, which is hidden from its line of sight.

The team’s dip transform to reconstruct complex 3D shapes utilizes liquid, computing the volume of a 3D object versus its surface. By following this method, a more complete acquisition of an object, including hidden details, can be reconstructed in 3D. Liquid has no line of sight; it can penetrate cavities and hidden parts, and it treats transparent and glossy materials identically to opaque materials, thus bypassing the visibility and optical limitations of optical and laser-based scanning devices.

water 3D scanningThe research, “Dip Transform for 3D Shape Reconstruction“, is authored by a team from Tel-Aviv University, Shandong University, Ben-Gurion University and University of British Columbia. They implemented a low-cost 3D dipping apparatus: objects in the water tank were dipped via a robotic arm. By dipping an object in the liquid along an axis, they were able to measure the displacement of the liquid volume and form that into a series of thin volume slices of the shape. By repeatedly dipping the object in the water at various angles, the researchers were able to capture the geometry of the given object, including the parts that would have normally been hidden by a laser or optical 3D scanner.

The team’s dip transform technique is related to computed tomography, an imaging method that uses optical systems for accurate scanning or to produce detailed pictures. However, the challenge with this more traditional method is that tomography-based devices are bulky and expensive and can only be used in a safe, customized environment. The team’s approach is both safe and inexpensive, and a much more appealing alternative for generating a complete shape at a low-computational cost using an innovative data collection method.

In the study, they demonstrated the new technique on 3D shapes with a range of complexity, including a hand balled up into a fist, a mother-child hugging and a DNA double helix. Their results show that the dip reconstructions are nearly as accurate as the original 3D model, paving the way to a new world of non-optical 3D shape acquisition techniques.

Hello Reachy!

sources: ici et ici

Pollen Robotics et l’équipe Hybrid Sensorimotor Performance (dirigée par Aymar De Rugy à l’INCIA -Institut de Neurosciences Cognitives et Intégratives d’Aquitaine) ont travaillé ensemble pour la réalisation de Reachy, un bras robotique bio-inspiré reprenant les principaux degrés de liberté d’un bras humain. Dans un premier temps, Reachy sera utilisé par l’INCIA dans le cadre de recherches sur le contrôle de prothèses via signaux myoélectriques (mesures d’activités musculaires).

Reachy est 100% open-source! Conçu comme un kit de recherche robotique, cette prothèse à taille humaine permet de réaliser une vaste gamme de mouvements. Également doté d’une main bio-inspirée, ce bras robotique peut attraper des objets variés.

Reachy a été conçu en partenariat avec des laboratoires de recherche. Entièrement monté, il peut être directement programmé en Python et peut facilement être connecté avec d’autres outils scientifiques (e.g. Matlab). Les modèles 3D (3Ds Max et STL) sont inclus, permettant de modifier et de personnaliser la prothèse. Les sources logiciels de contrôle du robot sont également open-source pour permettre aux utilisateurs de réellement s’en approprier. Le robot est également doté de logiciels permettant d’enregistrer des mouvements par démonstration kinesthésique. Ces mouvements peuvent ensuite être répétés. Ce moyen simple et intuitif permet de rapidement prototyper des démonstrations.

Pour le moment, Reachy est réalisé par Pollen à la demande et personnalisé pour des applications de recherche spécifiques. Le kit de recherche comprenant le robot monté, les modèles 3D et les logiciels de contrôle est disponible sur commande.


Santé : l’innovation technologique au service de la médecine

source: TF1

Grâce aux innovations technologiques, une équipe de chirurgiens orthopédistes de Brest peut poser une prothèse d’épaule à un patient grâce à une technique révolutionnaire qui s’appuie sur un programme sophistiqué d’imageries et d’impression en 3D. Du sur mesure pour le patient grâce à un logiciel mis au point par un ingénieur. Avec les progrès du numérique, les innovations médicales se multiplient, souvent développées dans le cadre d’une start up, le modèle économique le plus adapté à l’innovation.

all’IIT si stampano cartilagini!

da quest’articolo de La Repubblica dell’11/10/15

L’intuizione del genovese Luca Coluccino: togliere la “memoria” al tessuto e riprodurlo

L’idea gli è venuta a Pittsburgh — la città della Pennsylvania famosa per Flashdance e le antiche industrie dell’acciaio — ma continuerà a svilupparla sulla collina di Morego, a Genova, nell’Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia. Luca Coluccino ha 28 anni, una laurea in ingegneria biomedica e una passione per le articolazioni delle ginocchia. Lo si capisce dalla tesi di laurea e dal suo dottorato di ricerca al’IIT, dove dal 2013 studia come ricostruire e riparare le cartilagini.

084139429-51f017df-9dea-4c3a-95e2-cc1e89146d41Lo scorso anno, durante un periodo all’Università di Pittsburgh, Luca ha azzardato: “Ma perché invece di fare protesi sintetiche non proviamo a creare una cartilagine vera? Una cartilagine senza parti artificiali. Biologica, umana. E poi usiamo questo tessuto senza forma come “inchiostro” per una stampante in 3D“. Era un’idea un po’ folle: creare la cartilagine è l’ambizione dei gruppi di ricerca più avanzati del mondo, dalla Corea del Sud agli Stati Uniti. Ci provano da anni, senza successo. Ma Luca e il team con cui lavora — il gruppo Smart Materials del Dipartimento di Nanofisica dell’IIT — ci sono riusciti. E a metà settembre hanno spiegato come fare al TERMIS di Boston, la conferenza mondiale di riferimento per la medicina rigenerativa.

Luca arriva all’IIT con un maggiolone anni ’70, la giacca stilosa e una barbetta bionda accennata. A parlar di cartilagini gli si illuminano gli occhi. “Sono affascinanti perché non si ricreano come le ossa — spiega — Se un adulto ha una lesione grave a una cartilagine bisogna sostituirla con protesi metalliche o plastiche. Ma sono parti estranee al corpo umano: causano problemi di rigetto e non durano all’infinito“. Tra qualche anno potrebbe non essere più così, perché il team dell’IIT in collaborazione con l’Università di Pittsburgh (dove Coluccino era sotto la guida di un altro genovese, il ricercatore Riccardo Gottardi) ha trovato la “ricetta” per ricostruire cartilagini, tendini e menischi. Ad ascoltare Luca Coluccino sembra semplice: si tratta chimicamente una cartilagine, per esempio, sino a farla diventare un liquido che ha perso tutte le informazioni che nel corpo di un’altra persona potrebbero dare reazione immunitaria. “Solo una cosa le deve rimanere: la ‘memoria’ di essere una cartilagine“, avverte Coluccino.

impiantate le prime protesi di ossa stampate in 3D

da un articolo del Corriere di Bologna del 15 giugno 2015

3DprintedLe cinque persone operate hanno circa 25 anni e le ossa del bacino compromesse da un tumore o dal fallimento di una protesi

Cinque ragazzi di età media 25 anni hanno protesi ossee stampate in 3D. Sono i primi impianti di questo tipo in Italia – un solo caso simile in letteratura medica nel febbraio 2014 in Inghilterra – sono stati fatti all’Istituto Ortopedico Rizzoli di Bologna. I ragazzi avevano le ossa del bacino compromesse da un tumore o dal fallimento di una precedente protesi. La progettazione delle protesi “su misura” si è basata sui dati del paziente, ricavati con tac e risonanza. È stato così realizzato un bacino virtuale, poi identificato il “pezzo” che andava sostituito. Queste e altri prospettive della stampa 3D in medicina verranno illustrati venerdì nella conferenza che sancirà la nascita dell’Italian Digital Biomanufacturing Network, che nasce per collegare gli sperimentatori che hanno raggiunto i risultati più avanzati nell’applicazione medica di questa tecnologia.

La stampante 3D realizza le protesi come se fossero pezzi mancanti di un puzzle tridimensionale, così poi “si incastrano” esattamente dove i chirurghi asportano la parte d’osso malata. Le protesi impiantate a Bologna sono in titanio. Il vantaggio, ha spiegato il Prof. Davide Donati (direttore dell’Oncologia ortopedica del Rizzoli, dove sono stati eseguiti gli interventi), è una ricostruzione che è la più appropriata possibile dal punto di vista anatomico dei rapporti tra femore e bacino. In poche parole, dopo l’intervento i pazienti hanno maggiore possibilità di riprendere a camminare correttamente. Ma gli obiettivi della stampa 3D in medicina sono ancora più ambiziosi: il “bioprinting” mira infatti a creare dispositivi su misura fatti da un mix di sostanze plastiche, ma anche umane. Oggi si usano già biomateriali come plastica o titanio – ha spiegato Pier Maria Fornasari, direttore della Banca del Tessuto Muscolo-scheletrico del Rizzoli – BioprintingIl vantaggio della manifattura a 3D è che può stampare negli strati di materiale le cellule del paziente. La cartuccia di materiale per la stampa può contenere cellule del paziente. Questo futuro, fatto di materiale umano mescolato a quello biocompatibile non umano, è davvero imminente: secondo me ci arriveremo tra sei mesi, un anno.

Un ambito che rappresenta un ulteriore campo di ricerca per il Rizzoli, dove al progetto della stampa 3D lavorano una quindicina di persone. Grazie a un finanziamento di oltre due milioni di euro da Ministero della Salute e Regione Emilia-Romagna sarà attivata una piattaforma di Bioprinting per la fabbricazione di dispositivi custom made fatta tramite l’acquisizione di immagini radiologiche da una Tac Dual Energy. Inevitabile sollecitare a Fornasari il ricordo del futuro descritto da Blade Runner, con “replicanti” costruiti in laboratorio. Ma il ricercatore è sfuggito alle suggestioni: “No, non è Blade Runner. È la medicina che è sempre più vicina alle esigenze del paziente, sempre più su misura. Da una parte con la genomica, dall’altra con la produzione di dispositivi o tessuti sempre più adeguati alle necessità chirurgiche del paziente“.

imprimer une vertèbre en 3D, ça marche!

source: ce site internet

Pékin: un garçon de 12 ans a survécu à un cancer des os après une implantation d’une vertèbre imprimée en 3D

En médecine, l’impression 3D peut faire des miracles. Cela a été le cas avec un jeune Chinois à qui des médecins d’un hôpital universitaire de Pékin ont remplacé une vertèbre cancéreuse par une autre imprimée en 3D.

Minghao, jeune garçon âgé de 12 ans, se rend à l’hôpital suite à une blessure au cou pendant un match de foot. En l’examinant, les médecins découvrent un problème beaucoup plus grave: une tumeur s’est logée dans une vertèbre supérieure du jeune garçon. Les médecins décident donc de l’opérer pour remplacer la vertèbre atteinte mais choisissent d’utiliser une prothèse imprimée en 3D adaptée à sa morphologie, de manière à ce qu’elle puisse épouser la forme de sa colonne vertébrale. “Grâce à l’impression 3D, nous avons pu simuler les contours de la vertèbre, et ainsi la rendre plus solide et mieux adaptée qu’une prothèse traditionnelle“, explique le Dr Liu Zhongjun, qui a pratiqué l’opération. Cette technique moderne devrait donc rendre la convalescence de Minghao plus courte. “Si nous avions utilisé la technologie classique, la tête du patient aurait du être maintenue par des broches dans une structure pendant au moins trois mois, car il aurait fallu empêcher qu’elle ne touche son lit lorsqu’il se repose“, ajoute le Dr drZhongjun. Le garçon devra toutefois rester en observation à l’hôpital pendant 3 mois.

C’est la première fois qu’une implantation de vertèbre imprimée en 3D a lieu. Mais ce n’est en revanche pas la première fois que les médecins ont recours à cette méthode pour opérer: en mars dernier, des chirurgiens néerlandais sont parvenus à créer une partie du crâne en plastique totalement identique à celui d’une patiente souffrant d’une grave maladie et ont réussi à lui implanter. D’après ces médecins à l’origine de cette prouesse médicale, la patiente se porte bien et récupère peu à peu ses fonctions cérébrales endommagées par sa maladie. Les médecins ont aussi déclaré que “les bénéfices médicaux et esthétiques sont très importants et cette technologie devrait permettre à l’avenir d’opérer également des malades atteints de cancer des os ou de traumatismes crâniens“. Et voilà, c’est désormais chose faite!