Reality of Bioprinting Organs & Tissues
In global 3D cell culture market, the rivalry among the existing competitors is slightly high because the 3D culture market is consolidated and largly occupied by big players such as, Becton Dickenson & Company (U.S.), Thermofisher Scientific (U.S.), Corning (U.S.), Lonza (Switzerland), Merck KGaA (Germany), Kuraray Co. Ltd. (Japan), Insphero (Switzerland), Nano 3D Biosciences (U.S.), Organogenix (Japan), Organovo Holdings Inc. (U.S.). IQ4I estimated that the 3D cell culture global market is expected to grow at low double digit CAGR to reach $1,485.1 million by 2024. While companies like Insphero who offer 3D tissue models continue to launch innovative products, other companies like Organovo bring similar 3D tissue models in the market via bioprinting. The strong competition between the two methods shows the immense demands for both kinds of products.
Bioprinting has its own advantages over the traditional 3D culturing techniques such as; the method is automated and gives reproducible results along with speed and precision. Although 3D bioprinting has shown its capabilities, its true potential is yet to realized as there is a need of advancements in several aspects of the technology. Some of the areas that need to be addressed include bioprinter technology, biomaterials, cell sources, vascularization, innervations and maturation.
The bioprinter still needs to be developed to ensure more compatibility with the physiologically relevant materials and cells, further increase in speed and resolution, and compatibility for scale up for commercial applications. Identification and development of biomaterials is another aspect that needs development to suit the requirement functionally and mechanically. These biomaterials need to be compatible with the bioprinter as well as have a need to exhibit post-printing properties. Furthermore, development is required to ensure direct control over cell proliferation and differentiation via small molecules and other factors along with better understanding of the heterogeneous cell types.
Larger tissues require another important aspect that need to be addressed ie. Vascularization. A well developed vascular tree is required to be developed that may have to be engineered in the bioprinted constructs. This is not a simple task as the capillaries and microvessles need to have suitable mechanical properties that will mimic physiological pressure. Furthermore, another important challenge that need to be addressed is the innervations that is required for normal tissue function. Bioreactors too need to be more sensitive to ensure proper maturation of these complex structures.