In a day where it is more often than not cheaper to by a new printer than to buy the replacement ink cartridges it’s nice to see that someone might actually have a really radical use for them.
Scientists at Clemson University have found that due to the larger droplet size of the older printers like the HP DeskJet 500 it makes their job of bioprinting.
A short refresher course for those not familiar with the term – by emptying out the ink cartridges and then refilling them with a whole bunch of cells in a carrier fluid scientists can print out patterns of cell-packed droplets and as result create living tissue.
However Dr. Delphine and other researchers at Clemson have found there is an interesting side effect that occurs when printing out these cells.
It seems that during the process of droplet ejection and impact the cell’s walls are disrupted which creates temporary holes in the cell wall membrane which allows scientists to molecules inside those cells that wouldn’t otherwise fit, and then be able to study the reaction from the cells.
“We first had the idea for this method when we wanted to be able to visualize changes in the cytoskeleton arrangement due to applied forces on cells,” said Dr. Dean.
The team achieved this goal by using the holes to introduce fluorescent molecules that illuminate the cytoskeleton of the cell.
“We are actually interested in the cell mechanics of compressed cells,” said Dr. Dean. “This method allows us to push on the cells and watch the response easily. We are interested in cardiovascular cells, and how they respond to mechanical force.”
Here is a video courtesy of ExplainingTheFuture.com showing the principals behind bioprinting and if you want more details about the printer used and how this was accomplished check out the Jove page.