Bacteria Coerced to 3D Print Nanocellulose Implants

In a quest to make more realistic, safer, and personalizable tissue replacement implants, bacterial cellulose nanofibers are being looked on as a viable material. They are naturally biocompatible, biodegradable, withstand heat well, and have physical properties similar to many of our tissues, when composed into larger objects.

Bacterial cellulose nanofibers are produced by aerobic bacteria when it has sufficient supply of oxygen. This is known to happen at the edge between a culture medium and surrounding air, but to really take advantage of this process, researchers at Aalto University in Finland have developed a way for it to suit biomedical needs.

The investigators harnessed the natural growth patterns of bacteria by providing them with oxygen using “superhydrophobic interfaces” that guide the growth of the nanocellulose. In the process they were able to create objects such as an ear, shown on the right, and provide a proof of concept that we can use bacteria to precisely grow medical implants and other devices such as wound dressings, replacement blood vasculature, and new ligaments.

“The developed process is an easy and accessible platform for 3D biofabrication that we demonstrated for the synthesis of geometries with excellent fidelity. Fabrication of hollow and complex objects was made possible. Interesting functions were enabled via multi-compartmentalization and encapsulation. For example, we tested in situ loading of functional particles or enzymes with metal organic frameworks, metal nanoparticles with plasmon adsorption, and capsule-in-capsule systems with thermal and chemical resistance”, said  Aalto University Professor Orlando Rojas.

Image: Bacterial cellulose bio-fabricated in the shape of an ear via superhydrophobized molding. Photo: Luiz G. Greca

Study in journal Materials Horizons: Biofabrication of multifunctional nanocellulosic 3D structures: a facile and customizable route…

Via: Aalto University…