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Gizmorama - March 21, 2016

Good Morning,

The more I hear about the 3D printer the more I ponder the future of this technology. What can we make? Who can we help? Where is it going to go?

It seems that a 3D bioprinter has been developed with the capabilities of creating cartilage. Just think of the surgical and rehabilitation applications.

Learn about this and more interesting stories from the scientific community in today's issue.

Until Next Time,

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*-- Scientists make cheap high-quality mini microscopes --*

BOSTON - Researchers at Brigham and Women's Hospital and MIT have designed mini-microscopes that can create images at the resolution of much larger and more expensive microscopes.

The new imaging technology builds on a recently developed method called Expansion Mini-Microscopy, which uses a swellable gel to enlarge biological specimens by nearly 5 times their original dimensions.

Combined with mini-microscopes made from a webcam and off-the-shelf components, the method is capable of resolutions previously only achieved by benchtop microscopes.

As described in a study, newly published in the journal Scientific Reports, the research team successfully demonstrated the technique by magnifying and imaging bacteria.

"We anticipate that our ExMM technology is likely to find widespread applications in low-cost, high-resolution imaging of biological and medical samples, potentially replacing the benchtop microscope in many cases where portability is a priority, such as in research and health care scenarios in undeveloped countries or remote places," Ali Khademhosseini, director of the BWH's Biomaterials Innovation Research Center, said in a news release.

Khademhosseini led the effort to build a low-cost mini-microscope, while Edward Boyden and his research partners perfected the expanding gel.

"The beauty of the ExMM technology lies in its simplicity -- by combining physical and optical magnifications, high performance is achievable at a low cost," added Boyden, a scientists with the MIT Media Lab and McGovern Institute. "It's a 'best of both worlds' technology, in a way, utilizing the best features of inexpensive chemicals and inexpensive optics."

*-- 3D printer could soon make cartilage for knees, noses, ears --*

SAN DIEGO - Researchers at the Wallenberg Wood Science Center in Sweden have developed a 3D bioprinter capable of creating cartilage. The 3D printer uses ink containing human cells.

On Wednesday, the scientists responsible for the technology presented their groundbreaking bioprinting process to attendees at the 251st National Meeting and Exposition of the American Chemical Society, held this week in San Diego.

Because cartilage -- the connective tissue found in the nose, ears and joints -- doesn't heal, it must be replaced when damaged by disease or injury.

Previous efforts to create cartilage via bio-ink have failed, with the end products quickly losing their structural integrity. But a new bio-ink -- made from a mix of brown algae polysaccharides and human chondrocytes, the cells that build cartilage -- holds its structure after being printed into the shape of noses, ears and joints.

"Three-dimensional bioprinting is a disruptive technology and is expected to revolutionize tissue engineering and regenerative medicine," lead researcher Paul Gatenholm said in a news release. "Our team's interest is in working with plastic surgeons to create cartilage to repair damage from injuries or cancer."

"We work with the ear and the nose, which are parts of the body that surgeons today have a hard time repairing," Gatenholm continued. "But hopefully, they'll one day be able to fix them with a 3D printer and a bioink made out of a patient's own cells."

After scientists confirmed the bio-ink's structural integrity, they successfully implanted pieces of synthetic cartilage into lab mice. The implants' cells survived and successfully grew more cartilage.

Next, researchers added mesenchymal stem cells from bone marrow to the bioink's mixture. The addition encouraged even greater cartilage cell growth.

Though more preclinical work is necessary, researchers hope to soon test their technology inside human patients.


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