In an effort to do something extraordinary, an astronaut at the International Space Station (ISS) has done 3D bioprinting of the human cartilage. The process was done using magnets and human tissues.
The feat was achieved by Russian cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko, who made the human cartilage using new techniques developed in partnership with Moscow’s 3D Bioprinting Solutions.
He was assisted by a team led by Vladislav Parfenov at the Russian Academy of Sciences and 3D Bioprinting Solutions. To do so, Kononenko used a magnetic levitation bioassembly device, which combined human cells in a tissue structure without any physical scaffold.
The entire process has also been published as a study in the journal Science Advances.
The authors explained in their research paper, "Theoretically, there are three possible ways to reduce undesirable toxic effects of paramagnetic medium: (i) develop low-toxic Gd3+-salts or alternative paramagnetic medium, (ii) perform levitational bioassembly in high magnet field, and (iii) perform magnetic levitational bioassembly under the conditions of microgravity."
The new technique supports various functions, including self-assembly of cells, proliferation, differentiation, and extracellular matrix (ECM) production.
The researchers are further exploring the pros and cons related to 3D bioprinting and how to make the process easier.
In future, this process can help as the first aid in treating interstellar injuries during space missions, especially when the astronauts can’t come back to Earth anytime soon.