Cells from the eye are inkjet-printed for the first time

January 7, 2014, University of Cambridge
Credit: Desirae via Flickr

(Medical Xpress)—A group of researchers from Cambridge have used inkjet printing technology to successfully print cells taken from the eye for the very first time.The breakthrough, which has been detailed in a paper published in IOP Publishing's journal Biofabrication, could lead to the production of artificial tissue grafts made from the variety of cells found in the human retina and may aid in the search to cure blindness.

At the moment the results are preliminary and provide proof-of-principle that an inkjet printer can be used to two types of from the retina of adult rats ― and glial cells. This is the first time the technology has been used successfully to print mature central nervous system cells and the results showed that printed cells remained healthy and retained their ability to survive and grow in culture.

Co-authors of the study,  Professor Keith Martin and Dr Barbara Lorber, from the John van Geest Centre for Brain Repair, University of Cambridge, said: "The loss of in the retina is a feature of many blinding eye diseases. The retina is an exquisitely organised structure where the precise arrangement of cells in relation to one another is critical for effective visual function".

"Our study has shown, for the first time, that cells derived from the mature central nervous system, the eye, can be printed using a piezoelectric inkjet printer. Although our results are preliminary and much more work is still required, the aim is to develop this technology for use in retinal repair in the future."

The ability to arrange cells into highly defined patterns and structures has recently elevated the use of 3D printing in the biomedical sciences to create cell-based structures for use in regenerative medicine.

In their study, the researchers used a piezoelectric device that ejected the cells through a sub-millimetre diameter nozzle when a specific electrical pulse was applied. They also used high speed video technology to record the printing process with high resolution and optimised their procedures accordingly.

Dr Wen-Kai Hsiao, is a member of the team based at the Department of Engineering's Inkjet Research Centre. He commented:  "In order for a fluid to print well from an inkjet print head, its properties, such as viscosity and surface tension, need to conform to a fairly narrow range of values. Adding cells to the fluid complicates its properties significantly."

Once printed, a number of tests were performed on each type of cell to see how many of the cells survived the process and how it affected their ability to survive and grow.

The cells derived from the retina of the rats were , which transmit information from the eye to certain parts of the brain, and , which provide support and protection for neurons.

"We plan to extend this study to print other cells of the retina and to investigate if light-sensitive photoreceptors can be successfully printed using inkjet technology. In addition, we would like to further develop our printing process to be suitable for commercial, multi-nozzle print heads," Professor Martin concluded.

Explore further: Cells from the eye are inkjet printed for the first time

More information: "Adult rat retinal ganglion cells and glia can be printed by piezoelectric inkjet printing." Barbara Lorber et al. 2014 Biofabrication 6 015001. DOI: 10.1088/1758-5082/6/1/015001

Related Stories

Cells from the eye are inkjet printed for the first time

December 17, 2013
A group of researchers from the UK have used inkjet printing technology to successfully print cells taken from the eye for the very first time.

Researchers print live cells with a standard inkjet printer

March 16, 2012
Researchers from Clemson University have found a way to create temporary holes in the membranes of live cells using a standard inkjet printer. The method will be published in JoVE, the Journal of Visualized Experiments, on ...

Bioprinting has promising future

November 15, 2012
Writing in the journal Science, Professor Derby of The School of Materials, looks at how the concept of using printer technology to build structures in which to grow cells, is helping to regenerate tissue.

New hope for patients with macular degeneration

December 13, 2013
Macular degeneration is a leading cause of blindness in Australia, affecting one in seven people over the age of 50.

Recommended for you

More surprises about blood development—and a possible lead for making lymphocytes

January 22, 2018
Hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) have long been regarded as the granddaddy of all blood cells. After we are born, these multipotent cells give rise to all our cell lineages: lymphoid, myeloid and erythroid cells. Hematologists ...

How metal scaffolds enhance the bone healing process

January 22, 2018
A new study shows how mechanically optimized constructs known as titanium-mesh scaffolds can optimize bone regeneration. The induction of bone regeneration is of importance when treating large bone defects. As demonstrated ...

Researchers illustrate how muscle growth inhibitor is activated, could aid in treating ALS

January 19, 2018
Researchers at the University of Cincinnati (UC) College of Medicine are part of an international team that has identified how the inactive or latent form of GDF8, a signaling protein also known as myostatin responsible for ...

Bioengineered soft microfibers improve T-cell production

January 18, 2018
T cells play a key role in the body's immune response against pathogens. As a new class of therapeutic approaches, T cells are being harnessed to fight cancer, promising more precise, longer-lasting mitigation than traditional, ...

Weight flux alters molecular profile, study finds

January 17, 2018
The human body undergoes dramatic changes during even short periods of weight gain and loss, according to a study led by researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine.

Secrets of longevity protein revealed in new study

January 17, 2018
Named after the Greek goddess who spun the thread of life, Klotho proteins play an important role in the regulation of longevity and metabolism. In a recent Yale-led study, researchers revealed the three-dimensional structure ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.