Living networks of nerve cells are being 3D printed by researchers.


The field of 3D printing continues to make remarkable strides in various industries, including medicine and science. And now, a major breakthrough has occurred in the realm of neuroscience. Researchers at Melbourne’s Monash University have developed a cutting-edge 3D printing technique that involves creating three-dimensional nerve networks using bioink with living nerve cells, specifically brain cells in rats for the time being. These 3D structures have the ability to closely mimic the intricate connections found in the human brain.

This groundbreaking development opens up an array of new possibilities in exploring neurological disorders, testing drug efficacy, and deepening our comprehension of the functions of our nervous system. By incorporating tissue engineering methods with bioprinting, scientists have successfully replicated the configuration of the brain’s “grey-” and “white matter” using two distinct types of bioink – one containing living cells and the other composed of non-cellular materials.

To begin the process, the 3D printer overlays layers containing living cells with cell-free layers, imitating the brain’s alternating between white matter and grey matter. Additionally, special electrodes are inserted at regular intervals to stimulate the growth of the neural network and record its activity. Bioprinting shows immense promise as a means of research and might eventually eliminate the need for animal testing.

Professor John Forsythe, who led the study in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering, explained that previous attempts at using 2D nerve cell cultures to explore nerve network formation and pathological mechanisms had fallen short in replicating the three-dimensional complexity of nerve tissue. However, the networks grown in this research closely resemble the three-dimensional nature of circuits in a living brain.

By constructing a layout similar to brain regions and observing how neurons behave and perform, this study titled “3D Functional Neuronal Networks in Free-Standing Bioprinted Hydrogel Constructs” offers valuable insights into how nerves and nerve networks form and develop. It also presents an opportunity to study the impact of certain diseases on neurotransmission and evaluate the effects of drugs on nerve cells and the nervous system.

Bioprinting has become increasingly important in medical research, and this breakthrough in creating 3D printed nerve cells is a significant step forward. As the field continues to advance, the possibilities for innovative research and medical advancements are immense.

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Original source


“Why did the 3D printer go to therapy? Because it had too many layers of unresolved issues!”

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