Bioprinting Down Under (Australia): Recent Workshop Take-away

The first Australian workshop on 3D bioprinting for tissue engineering and regenerative medicine was a huge success. Having only been organized a few weeks in advance, the Department of Biomedical Engineering at the University of Technology Sydney curated a fantastic, engaging and thought-provoking event with an attendance of over 100 people from leading local and international bioprinting companies, industry, academia and clinician representatives with widely regarded experts in the field. Dr. Carmine Gentile, having recently joined UTS from the University of Sydney himself with the help of Dr. José Manuel Baena of REGEMAT 3D put together a full-day workshop of technical talks, equipment demonstrations, and networking breaks. Bioprinting is a fast-evolving multidisciplinary field which has seen commendable strides in recent years, this is evident from the involvement and collaboration between materials & computer scientists, molecular & cell biologists to mechanical & chemical engineers alike. The potential for bioprinting applications in healthcare are endless, the distant goal being a reality where we can fabricate on-demand personalized tissues and organs in the operating room. To this day, however, advances inaccurate modeling platforms through the printing of spheroids in forming biomimetic organoids for research in drug discovery, toxicology screening and disease modeling have been made, all whilst simultaneously providing the potential to revolutionize the drug development process by improving the efficacy of clinical trials and decreasing the reliance of animal testing.

More than 100 attendees at the conference

The day started with an informative presentation from Dr. José Manuel Baena of REGEMAT 3D on the 3D printing of medical devices and the current bioprinting landscape. Globally, the bioprinting market is estimated to reach 4.7 billion by 2025 and the demand for customized systems to meet personalized solutions is already evident. José emphasizes the need for multidisciplinary collaborations worldwide to tackle these challenges head-on, and in doing so help translate this promising technology from lab bench to bedside.

Dr. José Manuel Baena of REGEMAT 3D

Next up, Dr. Cameron Ferris of Inventia Life Sciences discussed the paradigm shift from 2D to 3D cell cultures using digital bioprinting technologies and the importance of high throughput reproducibility tailored to the cell biologist’s user experience. Inventia was founded from the University of New South Wales so it was fantastic to see a number of their employees attend the event and interact with the audience. This was followed by a live video presentation from Ms. Da-Yae Lee of ROKIT Healthcare leading the debate on the economics and science of moving 3D bioprinting platforms to the operating theatre.  Important commercialization frameworks, legislation, and regulatory hurdles were communicated in detail, providing up-to-date examples of projects and institutions already implementing this model including a recent milestone in India, PITI3D in Madrid, BioFab3D in Melbourne and opening in 2020 the Herston Biofabrication Institute between Metro North Health Service and the Queensland University of Technology. The last session before the morning break was given by application scientist Dr. Garry Bloomfield of CELLINK/Thermo Fisher Scientific talking about the portfolio of technologies for 3D bioprinting of tissues and organs currently available on the market including the recently released Lumen X by Volumetric and Holograph X by Prellis Biologics.

Dr. Cameron Ferris of Inventia Life Sciences

After the morning break, Prof. Maria Kavallaris of the Children’s Cancer Institute and the Australian Centre for Nanomedicine at UNSW, gave an eye-opening talk on 3D bioprinting of tumors for high-throughput applications. To characterize tumor-like properties of bioprinted spheroids, critical FACS analysis of hypoxic properties and cancer stem-like properties were compared between manual and bioprinted spheroids. Raising the question, can we produce bioprinted tumeroids from patient-specific tumors for HTP screening protocols? Next up, perhaps on everyone’s mind attending. What is ice printing? Prof. Tony Weiss from The University of Sydney presents a novel, reverse approach to tackling the challenges of vascularization in printed constructs. Highlighting that ineffective vascular perfusion limits the size and complexity of synthetic tissues and by utilizing sacrificial ice templates affords freeform fluid dynamics to ultimately shape and dictate complex branching hierarchal geometries. Addressing the primary considerations of functional vasculature being biocompatible and mechanically versatile, the use of tropoelastin coatings could enable small vessels to remain open.

A slide from Prof. Kavallaris presentation.
A slide from Prof. Tony Weiss

Before the networking lunch and showcase for bioprinters, Dr. Carmine Gentile from UTS gave a fantastic presentation on mending broken hearts with 3D bioprinted stem cells. Carmine has extensive research experience in the field and was involved in one of the first research groups even to conceptualize the notion of organ printing thereby delivering an in depth talk on the interface between developmental biology, engineering and biomaterials involved in bioprinting for the heart with a focusing on tissue spheroids as building blocks.

Dr. Carmine Gentile

After the break, Prof. Gordon Wallace from The University of Wollongong needs no introduction, with a wealth of research experience, Gordon talked about the convergence of the why? When? And where? of printing with living cells. The key takeaway being the complexity and lengthy considerations required at each stage of the developmental process before reaching the fabrication stage. Dr. Khoon Lim from the University of Otago put forward the potentials of light-activated bioinks for 3D biofabrication using digital light processing techniques. Whilst, Prof. Joanne Tipper from UTS talked about 3D in vitro models for spinal cord injury. A Prof. Majid Warkiani having recently been awarded the young tall poppy science award by the Australian Institute of Policy and Science for his work on non-invasive cancer diagnostics discussed how his group implements 3D micro-engineered systems for cancer drug screening.

Prof. Gordon Wallace
Bioprinter from Inventia Life Sciences

About the Author:

William Harley graduated with honors in medical biotechnology from the University of New South Wales. Currently, he is undertaking a Ph.D. at the University of Melbourne in acoustophoretic bioprinting. Stemming from his research experience in biomaterials, stem cells, and nanofabrication, he is driven by the clinical translation of personalized regenerative medicine. He is passionate about the innovation of 3D printing in healthcare and is determined to orchestrate a series of 3D HEALS events to engage in the Australian community.