Three-dimensional (3D) bioprinting is a useful technology that has been widely used in our lives, from reconstructive plastic surgery to the production of artificial organs. However, many biopolymers, such as nucleic acids, polysaccharides and proteins, cannot be easily constructed into a desirable 3D shape at the sub- or nanoscale due to their inherent structural and structural properties. Can we really achieve the free, high-resolution structure of different biomolecules using 3D printing technology?
A team of researchers from POSTECH’s Department of Materials Science and Engineering led by Prof. Seung Soo Oh, Prof. Emeritus Jung Ho Je, Dr. Moon-Jung Yong, and Ph.D. Candidates Un Yang and Byunghwa Kang have developed a pioneering 3D printing technology that allows direct writing and precise patterning of various biopolymers with complete mechanical stability and functional integration.
Their findings have been published in advanced science.
The research team presented a novel 3D printing strategy that preserves the folding structure and molecular function of different biopolymers by sequentially trapping, evaporating, and annealing a solution containing the biopolymer.
Regardless of the biopolymer species, this technology can produce 3D biopolymer architectures with precisely controlled size and geometry at sub-micron precision.
Moreover, it allows imprinted biopolymers to display their desired functions, thus achieving precise localization of spatiotemporal biofunctions, including molecular recognition and catalytic interactions.
This 3D printing technology can be applied in different fields by utilizing the principle that at the molecular levels, evaporation and solidification of the pure biopolymer-containing solution occurs regardless of the type of biopolymer. It is also advantageous that this printing process does not cause any damage or deformation to the biopolymers, due to the mild curing environment under room temperature and ambient air without any additives.
This breakthrough is expected to have wide-ranging applications in the development of materials that can analyze and simulate microbiological tissues. It could also be applicable for manufacturing artificial cells and tissues that can function properly in a biological environment, as well as for producing biological chips. The researchers are now planning to develop the next generation of cell simulator printing methods for practical diagnostics and drug development.
“The significance of this research lies in demonstrating for the first time that 100% functionally and structurally active biopolymers can be printed into ultra-fine 3D structures,” emphasized POSTECH team leader Professor Song Soo Oh. Professor Emeritus Young Ho Ji commented, “It has the potential to scale up for printing various materials with diverse optical and electrical properties, including complex materials such as quantum dots and carbon nanotubes.”
Un Yang et al, Type‐independent 3D writing and nanomodelling of confined biopolymers, advanced science (2023). DOI: 10.1002/advs.202207403
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