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Training to a suitable level

Posted by Antipodean 
Training to a suitable level
February 02, 2011 04:03PM
For those of you that are involved with cellular level biology at a professional level. I am interested in this technology and would be interested to know what professional training is available for those of us who would be considered laymen. There seems to be a few of us. I personally am 56 and an electronics and computer systems engineer.

What areas would you recommend.

I see this area has having the potential to become problematic if people start printing tissue without understanding the basics. This could result in bans on this type of non-commercial / semi scientific work. I have thoughts of someone printing a whole foot and then having to stop for whatever reason and then dumping it into the garbage!
Re: Training to a suitable level
February 03, 2011 01:37PM
Where to begin with training? Now that is a good question.
You need a good understanding of biology, microbiology, and cytology
to be able understand the interactions among cells to be able to keep them alive.
You need a good understanding of biocompatible materials to make sure that nothing in your design is going to kill the cells before
you even output them or after you output them.
You need a good understanding of chemistry to be able to mix up the necessary fluids that are used to feed the cells, trick them
into binding to each other, and trick them into reproducing.

Most of the people I work with have at least a college degree in Biology, MicroBiology, BioMedical Engineering, or Chemical Engineering.
As for me, I have a degree in Mechanical Engineering and a minor in BioMedical Engineering (basically I handle machine design).

The average person is not going to be able to print tissues due to time and the money involved in harvesting cells and keeping them alive.
Much less keeping them alive through the printing process and afterwards. I think it is safe to say that all of us doing cell or tissue printing
research are connected to universities or medical research companies that have budgets large enough to support the research. That's not
to say that you couldn't do it on your own at your house, but you are going to need a lot of spare cash.

A good, cheap place to start to look at bioprinting is to try and print yeast. It's available at grocery stores, it's cheap, it's safe to work with,
and it's easy to keep alive, yet can be easily cleaned up/killed with steam and clorox (ie. no medical incinerator needed).
Besides studying the rates of survival/longevity of cells undergoing a printing process, what would be the point of making structures out of single celled organisms? I would think that sponges could be an ideal starting point though.
Re: Training to a suitable level
August 15, 2011 08:38AM
The reason to start with yeast is because it is cheap and relatively tolerant to abuse. If you can't get yeast to print, then there is no way you are going to get human/animal cells to print. From there most people will usually move up to egg whites to see if it clogs up anything and then up to strep to see if they can get attachments to occur. If all is good at that point, then move on to blood serum and skin cells. Beyond that, the price for you cellular material starts getting very expensive.

Sponges may be a good thing to bioprint, but you have to consider how are you going to consistantly get the same type of live sponge, keep it alive, separate a cell culture from it, keep the culture alive, and how you are going to keep the printed cell pattern alive.
It may be simpler than I think, because I know very little about living sponges.

You could always try it though.
Re: Training to a suitable level
April 12, 2012 04:06PM
Hang on, using the reprap to directly print tissue?

You need a lot of specalized equipment to do any cell work. Contamination is a serious problem, and keeping them alive and well.
As an interest I would recommend reading up where you can about the mechanism of printing and trying to adapt that to the reprap design, the heating step will kill the cells straight off so that would need to be changed. I've heard of people adapting printers to 'print cells' or moreso to print liquids with cells suspended in them, could the reprap be modified with a printer for layered printing.
Re: Training to a suitable level
April 13, 2012 12:31PM
I don't think the cells would like the 200 degree heated extruder. ;-)

In theory you could replace the extruder head with a piezo head, micropump, or a lower temperature thermal head; and then use
that to print out cells. I guess you could also rework the body to hold a culture dish and put the whole thing into an enclosure full
of nitrogen. And then..... figure out why you chose the wrong tool to do cell printing with.
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