HSS 3332 Chapter Notes - Chapter 12: 3D Printing, 3D Bioprinting, Drug Discovery
SchoolUniversity of Ottawa
Course CodeHSS 3332
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The Shape of Things to come: 3D Printing in Medicine
What is 3D printing?
• 3D printing is a manufacturing technique by which objects are built from digital data in a
way analogous to how computer text is printed on a page
o Has been used to build everything from rockets to houses to guns to other 3D
• Capabilities are limited only by access to a low-cost 3D printer, a set of digital blueprints
and some ingenuity
• A technology that is based on the concept of ‘additive’ manufacturing – that is, 3D
printing builds structures by depositing material layer by layer
• 3D printing is flexible and can create a myriad of structures in a variety of materials, in
nearly any shape or size; capable of using components as carried as ceramics, sandstone,
• Bridge between digital 3D models and the physical world
How might bioprinters facilitate drug discovery?
• Technology is advancing quickly to create tools to facilitate drug discovery
• Tiny microcisms of organs can be printed onto an in vitro substrate, where they are
exposed to potential drugs
• Using these ‘mini organs’ the effects of drugs and drug toxicity on human tissues may be
observed without conducting in vivo studies
o “Body on a chip” project is combining bioprinting with microfluidics, which if
successful could lead to extremely high-throughput drug screening
• Exploring the possibility of using 3D printers to build biocompatible scaffolds with
porous microstructures embedded with differentiation and growth factors; scaffolds can
then be seeded with stem cells to regenerate organs with the microscopic and
macroscopic characteristics of a normal organ
As this technology spreads, what critical questions need to be addressed by research
(concerning safety and regulatory processes)?
• Critical questions accompany the broad application of 3D printers in medicine
• Unclear the ultimate value of 3D printing for health and how it will be specifically affect
outcomes; preoperative planning, education, or patient communication
• Pathway to ensuring the safety of these devices remains unclear
o Will previously cleared devices need additional oversight when produced by 3D
printing? Many versions of a printable medical device may exist; will they all be
subject to oversight as separate devices?
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