3D bioprinting to be tested in agricultural research
Imitating nature in laboratories and manufacturing leaves, seeds, and even more complex structures of plants, animals or microorganisms could soon become a reality at Embrapa Genetic Resources and Biotechnology’s Laboratory of Nanobiotechnology (LNANO), in Brasília, DF, Brazil. The recent approval of a project, as well as other related activities, will enable researchers to test biological activities in three-dimensional environments, that is, closer to reality.
The project leader, the Embrapa researcher Luciano Paolino da Silva explains that the technique used is called 3D bioprinting, a variant of 3D printing, a method to manufacture solid objects from a digital file containing spatial information and dimensional coordinates. The team intends to use the 3D bioprinting technology to create valid models and to test nanomaterials produced from biomolecules obtained from agricultural and forestry industry waste.
The creation of a 3D-printed structure is a relatively simple process and consists in depositing successive layers of a given material, such as metal, resin or polymers, until the object is ready. With 3D bioprinting, the difference is that the materials used are biological components like biomolecules and cells.
The technique is one of the most recent innovations in the field of biotechnology and synthetic biology, and the experience to be developed at LNANO will be a pioneering one in Brazil, Luciano Paolino asserts. “In traditional cultures, the cells are deposited on culture dishes in plain layers (2D), forming a single layer on which biological activity tests can be performed. With 3D bioprinting it will be possible to reproduce some of the three-dimensional conditions of livings beings”, explains the researcher.
According to Paolino, in the traditional cultures, the cells are generally presented in a disorganized arrangement, since they are outside their real space environment. In many cases, there is success at the in vitro stages and, at the time of the in vivo tests, the research shows flaws.