3D printing: arming researchers with the latest technologies

02 Apr 2019

We’ve awarded funding for a specialist technician to support a new 3D bioprinting lab. This will help researchers use the latest technology to develop new treatments for patients.

What is 3D bio-printing?

3D printing is a rapidly developing technology and one that has exciting implications for medical research. It works by adding layer upon layer of material until a 3D structure is created from a digital design. This technology is now being used in the medical world with 3D bioprinting. This uses living cells as its ‘printer ink’.

The technology allows multiple different cells types and biomaterials to be rapidly printed with micron-scale resolution, meaning that scientists can engineer tissues with more complex structures, like skin and bone. Even organs can be replicated - in Zurich, a team of PhD candidates created the first prototype of an entirely soft artificial heart that looks and beats just like the real thing. 

Enabling the latest technologies at Queen Mary University of London

To take advantage of this technology, Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry at Queen Mary University of London recently invested in state-of-the-art bio-printing equipment for the newly established CREATE lab. The facility is available to researchers across the Medical School and wider Queen Mary university to use for advanced tissue engineering and to help develop new treatments for diseases.

See the equipment in action >


Project lead John Connelly, a Reader in Bioengineering (pictured right) says: “We’d like to use these tissues to understand basic mechanisms of human physiology but also to better understand disease and even test new drugs and therapies.

“One of the projects that we’re currently developing is an in-vitro model of wound healing. We’re using the 3D printer to create a 3D skin model that has a defect in the middle and then studying how cells repair or regenerate that defect. Then, we could possibly even introduce new materials that can help promote that healing and regeneration.”

How our funding is helping

Our grant of £192,000 will be used to fund a specialist technician, Ratima Suntornnond (pictured right), who is experienced in developing new material for 3D bioprinting – known as ‘bio ink’.

This will push the field of 3D bio-printing forward as a whole, allowing them to expand the possibilities of what the technology can do. Her support will also be essential for researchers to collect preliminary data for future grant applications, to access new sources of funding.

Ultimately, the facility means that scientists have access to the most cutting-edge technology to support their research, to help them bring new treatments to patients.

Are you a researcher at Barts and the London? See how the CREATE lab in the Blizard Institute could support your work at one of their seminars on the 10th April.

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