A “bio-ink” for 3D printed materials could serve as scaffolds for growing human tissues to repair or replace damaged ones in the body. Bioengineered tissues show promise in regenerative, precision, and personalized medicine; product development; and basic research, especially with the advent of 3D printing of biomaterials that could serve as scaffolds, or temporary structures to grow tissues.

The researchers envisioned a system where hyaluronic acid and polyethylene glycol serve as the basic “ink cartridges” for 3D printing. The system would also have other ink cartridges featuring different cells and ligands, which serve as binding sites for cells. The system would print gel scaffolds with the right stiffness, cells, and ligands, based on the type of tissue desired.

Instead of an ink color for an inkjet printer, the researchers wanted the mixture to have properties that are right for specific cells to multiply, differentiate, and remodel the scaffold into the appropriate tissue.

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