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Allevi Author: How 3D Bioprinting Solves the Stem Cell Supply Problem

If stem cell therapies take off – we’re going to need a way to solve the stem cell supply problem – read on to learn more:

The Promise

We’ve all read the news stories touting the promise of stem cells to transform the field of regenerative medicine; “The Life Saving Power of Stem Cells”, “The Promise of Stem Cells”, “The $950 Million Dollar Bet on Stem Cells to Cure Diabetes”, etc…

stem cells

So why are these types of cells so exciting to the medical community? It’s because your stem cells are multipotent; meaning that they have the potential to develop into many different cells in the body. Because they have this ability to reprogram (or ‘differentiate’), stem cells can repair diseased or damaged tissue in humans.

stem cells differentiation to specialised cells

However, these promising therapies require a large number of stem cells for a single treatment. Up to one billion cells may be needed just for one patient. Furthermore, manufacturing these special cells is challenging. Traditional two-dimensional culture protocols are resource-intensive and inefficient – making it difficult to scale the production to meet future demands.

The Solution

Our newest Allevi Authors are working on an innovative new approach to solving the stem cell supply problem. Their research is detailed in a paper titled, “Bioprinting of Stem Cell Expansion Lattices”.

The team of scientists was led by Stanford Professor Sarah Heilshorn. They developed an easy-to-produce and cost-effective 3D platform for cell line expansion. They accomplished this by bioprinting stem cells in a layered lattice structure. Using their Allevi 2 bioprinter, the team created three-dimensional lattice structures of stem cells and alginate that reduce the spatial footprint, energy, and resources needed to multiply the cells. So why is this method optimal? Imagine that you are a city planner with a limited amount of space to build more housing, you would be able to provide homes for more residents by building high-rises rather than individual houses.

stem cell expansion 3d lattices bioprinted allevi bioprinting

Using alginate and an Allevi bioprinter, the team is able to create lattice 3D structures. These constructs provide a healthy environment for the cells to grow without taking up much space or using many resources. Most importantly, the team was able to efficiently remove the stem cells from the lattices without harming the cells.

With countless stem-cell therapies in development for numerous diseases, researchers and doctors are going to need a large number of stem cells in order to bring their work to fruition. This approach provides a path to clinical applications for patients looking to receive one of these novel therapies.

Read the full paper here.

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