Scientists from, Latvia and the United States published in the Washington post article describing the experiment of printing cellular constructs using magnetic bio-printer, which took place on the ISS in 2018. Analysis of the obtained samples carried out on Earth showed that printing allows you to create constructs with the United cells and high survival rate.
3D printing has long been used in research to create artificial analogues of organs from a solution with these cells of the appropriate type. Until ready to transplant organs they do not print, however primitive prototypes to create is already possible. In addition, they can be used to create tissue constructs to study the effect of external conditions on the cells. In particular, despite the fact that for decades in orbit to fly a space station with scientific equipment, data on the effects of weightlessness and high radiation on living organisms is little space and 3D printers could become a useful tool for biomedical research.
Classic but 3D printing is based on the layering of matter, and hence uses gravity to keep the layers until they froze. Layer-by-layer printing can be implemented in space, increasing the viscosity and adhesion of the print material, in the case of a biological hydrogel-precursors is often not possible, either using a centrifuge or other device to simulate gravity, but it unnecessarily complicates the already difficult design.
scientists and engineers from the company 3D Bioprinting Solutions in 2018 created a bio-printer “Organ.Ed” for space conditions, which uses layered printing, and magnetic buoyancy cells in the center of the print area. More specifically, the printer works not with individual cells and with their kits, which are prepared on the Ground. For this, the cells (this study used a chondrocyte — cartilage cells) together with supporting solution-culture is placed in a spherical vessel and allow them to connect, forming the extracellular matrix. As a result, scientists received spheres with an average diameter of 300 micrometers.
Sphere chondrocytes is placed in a large cell combined with a hydrogel, which is below 21 degrees Celsius is converted into the Sol and above in the gel. Into another vessel of the cuvette is placed in formaldehyde for fixation of the obtained samples before sending it to the Ground. In addition, it has gadobutrol — paramagnetic agent, which is usually used as a contrast agent in MRI. All cuvettes are loaded into the printer and the magnets of complex shape (together they form a hollow cylinder with a circular cutout sides) pushed paramagnetic particles in the center of the working area of the cell, and together with them sent to the centre and sphere of chondrocytes. After the spheres are gathered in a single structure, the cell for two days kept at a temperature of 37 degrees Celsius and fixed with formalin.
Initially, “On.Ed” was sent to the ISS on the space ship “Soyuz MS-10”, but during the flight occurred the accident, so the printer delivered to the station during the next mission, 3 December 2018, and already the 5th day of the cosmonauts began experiments on it. 20 Dec cell printed constructs “lowered” to the Ground “Soyuz MS-09”, and the materials of the experiment gave scientists for analysis.