Biofabrication: Main Advances and Challenges
The artificial production, in laboratories, of organs and biological structures, by adequately placing and combining ex vivo cells, synthetically produced tissue patches, and supporting biomaterials, is no more a matter of science fiction but a present relevant research challenge already providing promising results, included under an innovative area called “biofabrication.”
If organs could be artificially produced, patients would benefit from more rapid surgical interventions; compatibility would be highly promoted, as they would be produced ex vivo from the own patient’s cells; and aspects such as organ piracy would be limited (nowadays around 10 % of organs used for transplantation worldwide comes from illegal activities).
The socio-economical impact of synthetic organ production is comparable to that of the whole pharmaceutical industry, what explains the interest it has arisen in the last decade, with several new companies aiming at improving state-of-the-art tissue engineering procedures for starting 3D tissue construction.
In addition, novel scientific journals are being devoted to these advances, and it is just a matter of time that related concepts and techniques are included in the syllabuses of teaching programs at universities, what would be very positive for the evolution of this area.
This chapter provides a brief introduction to this field of research, discussing most relevant advances on materials science, design tools, and manufacturing technologies that are working for making biofabrication a viable alternative to conventional therapeutic procedures. Main present difficulties and research challenges are also discussed.
KeywordsAdditive Manufacture Spider Silk Medical Imaging Technology Rapid Prototype Machine Cell Printer
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