From: Vladimir Mirinov
Date: Sun, 11 Mar 2007 16:50:26 -0500
Can you tell us more about the research you are engaged in?
We want to print living human organs suitable for clinical implantation. Our most ambitious project is Charleston Bioengineered Kidney Project. Organ printing is basically biomedical application of well established rapid prototyping technology. Suzanne Anker was probably one of the first artist who successfully employed rapid prototyping technology in her art. The difference in our approach that we do not print plastic scaffolds or biodegradable temporal supporting framework and then seed it with living cells in bioreactor. It is so-called two step approach. We print living cell and biodegradble stimuli-sensitive hydrogel simultaneously. It is so called one step approach. Bioprinting of living tissue of desirable geometry is definitely new form of sculpture or better say Biosculpture. The principal difference that this sculpture is living sculpture and it can growth evolve and undergo changing and remodeling. We can use as a building block living cell aggregates or clusters of different color. In such approach it can look like three-dimnesional painting. Famous painter Paul Klee wrote that painting is putting right color in right place. Similary, bioprinting can be described as is putting the right cells into the right 3D space. In this context "Bio-sculpturing" especially when one will use cell aggregates of different color can be called "three-dimensional pointillism"
Where does the idea of bio-printing come from?
The idea of using rapid prototyping technology or computer-aided layer by layer additive manufacturing was originated from our flustrations with unsucessfull attempts to put living cells into porous 3D biodegradable scaffold with required high level of cell density and with desirable level of precision. We do not grow organs as many wrongly believed - we are assembling living tissues and organs from cell aggregates using bioprinter or robotic computer-aided cell dispensing devices. Living cells have unique capacity to self-assembly into 3D living human tissues. We just put them in right place at right cell density. Cell viability promoting and tissue fusion permissive supporting biodegradable hydrogel allow to keep these printed cell aggregates together. then we are using accelerated tissue maturation technologies in order to finish job and transform printed viable tissue constructs into living 3D tissue and organs. It is interesting that cell can undergo cell sorting process or preferential adhesion . Thus artist can use flat Petri dish or flat perfused minibioreactors with projector and place cells with different color ( green or red fluoresecnt proteins) and then observe dynamic living paintings or Biopainting" and observe ( by projection image on the screen or wall) how cell pattern evolve and change with time. Evolving cell and tissue biopatterns can be as beautiful as flowers. There are no technological problem in creating minibioreactor with projector. Biopainting can be very popular art if artist or painter will have bioink of different color. There are already identified and analyzied types of genes responsible for expression of florescent proteins, These genes after introducing into cell can expresse 7 types of fluorescent colors. All these tools are waiting to be explored by creative artists. L
Can we one day realize Pigmalion's Dream and bioprint (bio-sculpturing) complete living human being?
Only future can answer on this provocative question.I am afraid that human printing technology (if one can imagine logical possible social implication of broad adapting of this technology) can induce hotest political debate in the future. In this recent debates on stem cells is only beginning... I think artists can help to promote these (I believe inescapable) forcoming future debates already now. Bottom line: living BioArt both two-dimensional or bio-painting (living dynamic biopatterning) and three-dimensional or bio-sculpturing ( bioprinted 3D dynamically evolving living tissue of desirable shape) is already technically possible.
Vladimir A. Mironov, M.D., Ph.D.
Director of MUSC Bioprinting Research Center.
Medical University of South Carolina
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