The surgeon Murray performed the first transplant in history in 1954. Today, after just over six decades, thousands of surgeons around the world perform this type of surgery, whose techniques have reached remarkable levels of sophistication. Not only that: until a few years ago we assumed that the transplanted material came directly from another human being. Today the hope of generating artificial fabrics practically from scratch is becoming more and more concrete. This hope has a name: 3D bioprinting or, even better, intravital 3D bioprinting.
The group coordinated by Principal Investigator Nicola Elvassore, in a collaboration between VIMM and the University of Padua, has added an important piece to the research thanks to experiments conducted on mice. It is the discovery of a photosensitive gel. Their study appeared in June in the prestigious journal Nature Biomedical Engineering and embodies the full scientific potential of interdisciplinary approaches.
Through bioengineering, a discipline that uses technological tools of engineering to deal with problems related to the life sciences, researchers have developed a gel that could in the future be used to repair or recreate damaged tissues. In classic 3d bioprinting, the print of the tissue or organ is first created and then, through a surgical procedure, inserted into the body. Elvassore’s group has instead developed the Intravital 3D bioprinting, through the creation of the photosensitive gel. The latter can be combined with donor cells, injected into the body and, thanks to an infrared laser that does not compromise the surrounding tissues, solidified.