Bio-imprinted neurons could reduce the use of animals in research

A group of researchers, including a doctoral student from Concordia, have developed a new method of bioprinting adult neuronal cells. They use new laser-assisted technology that maintains high levels of cell viability and functionality.

2020-21 doctoral student and public researcher Hamid Orimi and his co-authors present the feasibility of a new bioprinting technology they have developed in a recent article published in the journal Micromachines. They demonstrate how the methodology they created, called Laser-Induced Side Transfer (LIST), improves existing bioprinting techniques by using bioinks of different viscosities, allowing better 3D printing. Orimi, his co-director at Concordia Sivakumar Narayanswamy at the Gina Cody School of Engineering and Computer Science, the co-director of the CRHMR Christos Boutopoulos and the co-authors of the University of Montreal presented the method for the first time in the Nature magazine Scientific reports in 2020.

Orimi co-wrote the new article with lead author Katiane Roversi, Sébastien Talbot and Boutopoulos at UdeM and Marcelo Falchetti and Edroaldo da Rocha at Federal University of Santa Catarina in Brazil. In it, the researchers demonstrate that the technology can be used to successfully print sensory neurons, a vital component of the peripheral nervous system. This, they say, holds promise for the long-term development of the potential of bioprinting, including disease modeling, drug testing, and implant manufacturing.

Viable and functional

The researchers used dorsal root ganglion (DRG) neurons from the mouse peripheral nervous system to test their technology. Neurons were suspended in a bioink solution and loaded into a square capillary above a biocompatible substrate. Low energy nanosecond laser pulses were focused in the middle of the capillary, generating microbubbles which expanded and ejected a cell-laden microjet onto the substrate below. The samples were briefly incubated, then washed and reincubated for 48 hours.

The team then performed several tests to measure the capacities of the printed cells. A viability test revealed that 86 percent of the cells remained alive two days after printing. The researchers note that viability rates improve when the laser uses less energy. Thermomechanics associated with higher use of laser energy were more likely to damage cells.

Other tests measured neurite outgrowth (in which developing neurons produce new projections as they develop in response to guidance signals), neuropeptide release, calcium imaging, and sequencing of RNA. Overall, the results were generally encouraging, suggesting that the technique could be an important contribution to the field of bioprinting.

Good for humans and animals

“In general, people often jump to conclusions when we talk about bioprinting,” says Orimi. “They think we can now print things like human organs for transplants. If this is a long-term goal, we are very far from it. But there are still many ways to use this technology.

Drug discovery is the closest. The team is hoping to gain approval to continue their research into cell transplantation, which can greatly aid the discovery of drugs, such as nerve recovery drugs.

Another benefit of using this technology, Orimi says, is a decrease in animal testing. This not only has a humanitarian aspect – fewer animals will be euthanized to perform experiments intended to benefit humans – but it will also produce more accurate results, since the tests will be carried out on human tissue and not on animals.


Roversi K, Ebrahimi Orimi H, Falchetti M, Lummertz da Rocha E, Talbot S, Boutopoulos C. Bioprinting of adult dorsal root ganglion (DRG) neurons using laser-induced lateral transfer (LIST). Micromachines. 2021; 12 (8): 865. doi: 10.3390 / mi12080865

This article has been republished from the following documents. Note: The material may have been modified for its length and content. For more information, please contact the cited source.

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