NC State Lab’s 3D Printed Hydrogels Could Be A Step Towards Synthetic Organs One Day
RALEIGH, NC (WNCN) – Just days after earning his doctorate, Austin Williams showed off what helped him earn his doctorate. This accomplishment could end up helping millions of people.
In a North Carolina State University lab, 3D printers produce a hydrogel mesh or bandage to cover a wound or wound.
“As medicine becomes more customizable, more customizable, 3D printing will be applied more and more because you can 3D print custom shapes and designs and materials customized to fit the patient,” said Williams.
Algae and seaweed are commonly used as thickening agents in dressings. The NC State team have found the perfect combination of the same natural materials, or hydrogels, that will suit a 3D printer.
Professor Orlin Velev oversees the program.
“You want to be able to make dressings. You want to be able to protect injuries. You want to be able to do reconstructive surgery, ”Velev said.
“Water-based materials can be soft and brittle, but these homocomposite materials, soft fibrillar alginate particles inside an alginate medium, are actually two hydrogels in one. One is a particle hydrogel and the other is a molecular hydrogel. So it is very strong, you can control the strength, stiffness and flexibility of this material. You can adjust its density. “
The cells have been shown to love the 3D printed gel and are able to replicate and survive. New cells can be injected into the formula to aid healing, which means this finding could one day be used to help produce new organs to replace sick people.
“What people do is get types of hydrogels, fill them with cells, 3D print them into shapes where the cells can then proliferate to make this kind of synthetic material that hopefully can have a day be implanted in sick people, ”said Williams.
The same concept could one day be used in robotics as well as to create low calorie foods.
The team’s work has been published in the journal Nature communications. It is co-written by Williams, Velev, Sangchul Roh, Simeon Stoyanov and Professor Lilian Hsiao.