The value of FDM technology is often depreciated, and the method is considered suitable mainly for rapid prototyping. However, scientists are proving that the benefits of thermoplastic manufacturing technology can help optimize research into new treatments. A team of scientists from the University of Girona successfully uses 3D printers in their work, creating with their help spatial structures supporting the process of stem cell isolation.

As part of their scientific work, the research team from the University of Girona focuses on developing treatment methods for one of the most aggressive cancers with a high relapse rate – triple-negative breast cancer. Thanks to 3D printed structures, it was possible to isolate the stem cells of the analyzed tumor, which is another milestone in their research.

Using the 3D printers of the Spanish manufacturer BCN3D, they created precise scaffolds, using the popular biodegradable PLA material. Imitating tissue structures, the shapes have facilitated the isolation of cells responsible for causing relapses. The results obtained will allow further, more detailed research to be carried out to develop pharmaceuticals that are harmless to healthy tissues and at the same time fight cancer cells.

Project leader Dr Teresa Puig explained that when treated with traditional methods (radiation or chemotherapy), there are still cancer cells remaining in the body, so it is especially important to look for a solution to fight the cancer cells responsible for the recurrence of the disease.

A number of structures with different geometries, pore shapes and sizes, or filling density have been developed for the study. A total of 27 iterations were analyzed to find the optimal structure for cell isolation.

Earlier, scientists used two-dimensional cell cultures in their experiments, but it was thanks to 3D printed structures that the intended results were achieved, which became the starting point for pharmaceutical research.

The research results were presented in the scientific journals “International Journal of Molecular Sciences” and “Polymers” in the publication “Screening of Additive Manufactured Scaffolds Designs for Triple Negative Breast Cancer 3D Cell Culture and Stem-Like Expansion


Magdalena Przychodniak
Editor-in-Chief of the 3D Printing Center. A biomedical engineer following the latest reports on bioprinting and 3D printing in modern medicine.

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