Now print structures deep in your tissues with this new acoustic technique

Now print structures deep in your tissues with this new acoustic technique

Now print structures deep in your tissues with this new acoustic technique

Researchers from Duke University and Harvard Medical School have unveiled a new 3D printing technique that utilizes soundwaves instead of light to create intricate structures deep within tissues. 

The method, named Deep-Penetrating Acoustic Volumetric Printing (DVAP), enables applications from bone healing to targeted drug delivery, presenting a significant leap forward in biocompatible ink technology.

Beyond the limitations of light.

Traditional 3D printing techniques often face limitations in reaching deep tissues due to the reliance on light-sensitive inks. 

To overcome this hurdle, Y. Shrike Zhang, associate bioengineer at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and associate professor at Harvard Medical School, and Junjie Yao, associate professor of biomedical engineering at Duke, introduced DVAP.

Unlike light, ultrasound waves can penetrate more than 100 times deeper into tissues while maintaining spatial precision. “DVAP relies on the sono-thermal effect, which occurs when soundwaves are absorbed and increase the temperature to harden our ink,” explained Yao, in a statement.

“Ultrasound waves can penetrate more than 100 times deeper than light while still spatially confined, so we can reach tissues, bones and organs with high spatial precision that haven’t been reachable with light-based printing methods.”

DVAP’s cornerstone is a specialized ink called sono-ink, composed of hydrogels, microparticles, and molecules that react specifically to ultrasound waves. 

Being a viscous liquid, sono-ink can be injected into target areas with ease. Using a unique ultrasound printing probe, researchers then send focused ultrasound waves into the ink, causing it to harden into intricate structures, ranging from bone-mimicking scaffolds to hydrogel bubbles suitable for organ placement.

“The ink itself is a viscous liquid, so it can be injected into a targeted area fairly easily, and as you move the ultrasound printing probe around, the materials in the ink will link together and harden,” explained Zhang. 

“Once it’s done, you can remove any remaining ink that isn’t solidified via a syringe,” he added. Sono-ink was designed to be versatile, allowing researchers to tailor its formula for various uses and adjust durability, ability to degrade, and even color.

Now print structures deep in your tissues with this new acoustic technique

From heart repair to therapeutic drug delivery.

To demonstrate the potential of DVAP, the research team conducted three successful tests. In the first, they used the sono-ink to seal off a section in a goat’s heart, a procedure traditionally requiring open-chest surgery. The ultrasound waves penetrated 12 mm of tissue, securely bonding the ink to the heart tissue without causing damage. The flexible bond was observed to withstand movements mimicking a beating heart.

In the second test, the team demonstrated DVAP’s capacity for tissue reconstruction and regeneration by injecting sono-ink into a chicken leg bone defect model. The ink seamlessly bonded with the bone through 10 mm of skin and muscle tissue layers, causing no negative impact in any of the surrounding tissues.

The third test showcased DVAP’s role in therapeutic drug delivery. Adding a common chemotherapy drug to the sono-ink, the researchers delivered it to sample liver tissue. The hardened hydrogels slowly released the chemotherapy drug, diffusing into the liver tissue.

“We’re still far from bringing this tool into the clinic, but these tests reaffirmed the potential of this technology. We’re very excited to see where it can go from here,” said Zhang.

“Because we can print through tissue, it allows for a lot of potential applications in surgery and therapy that traditionally involve very invasive and disruptive methods,” Yao added. While still in the early stages, DVAP could be the start of a significant step toward revolutionizing biomedicine and personalized healthcare.

Source: Interesting Engineering

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Now print structures deep in your tissues with this new acoustic technique

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