UBC researchers have recently developed a chemical compound that makes it possible to create biological tissue with a light projector. The compound, a new type of biological ink used in the 3D printing of tissue, eliminates the need to use UV light systems in favour of safer, more conventional light.
“UV light is known to be cancer-causing and can damage a cell’s DNA, which is not ideal when trying to create tissue for medical purposes,” says Keekyong Kim, an assistant professor of Engineering at UBC’s Okanagan campus. “By developing our own bio-ink, we can create bone, cartilage and tissue without the risk that we will make the cells sick in the development process.”
In his research, Kim uses the stereo lithography, a standard 3D printing process that allows for the creation of materials on a layer-by-layer basis. The key to Kim’s research was a photo-initiating chemical compound that allowed the bio-ink to react to the light of a normal projector, a light source that has been used to print plastic 3D models but not biological material. “With our photo-initiator, we were able to use a more conventional light source, which hadn’t really been tried in 3D bio-printing before,” says Kim. “The result is we are able to make medical tissue in a way that is not only safer, it’s cheaper.”