Biological printing has come a very long way to get to where it is today, and is relatively close to becoming a viable option in the medical field. This being said, there are still many challenges that must be overcome in order for it to become a practical and successful tool.
Challenge 1: The cost of the technology. 3D printing technology has been around for over 20 years, but it wasn’t until recently that it became more affordable for universities and other research groups. The lack of technology has slowed advancements, but as the technology needed is now more widely available, this problem has become less of an issue.
Challenge 2: The length of time needed for the printing process. It is estimated that it would take 10 days to print a human kidney, and six to eight weeks for a functioning bladder to be produced. This problem is currently being improved, and with further research and more experience in this field, shorter printing times are to be expected in the future.
Challenge 3: Finding a cell source. This involves locating cells that are suitable as a base for use in tissue engineering. Current bioprinting uses stem cells as the base, but once again, more experimental research is required in order to fully understand and take advantage of this printing process.
Challenge 4: Scientists are finding it difficult to generate vascularized tissues. Tissue vascularization is to restore blood flow back to the organ that was replaced, or in other words, connecting the new organ to the body. Several methods are currently being tested in regards to this issue, and a solution is close to being reached.
Biological printing is facing a number of challenges, which is only to be expected when working with something as groundbreaking and complex as it is. These challenges are being addressed and advancements are being made daily, bringing the project ever closer to becoming accepted as a common and useable means in the medical field.
– Sincerely, BP