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Other news - Thursday, 25 June, 2020

Tissue printing technology - interview with dr. Judit Pongrácz

The research group of the University of Pécs deals with the production of artificial tissues suitable for drug research, the improvement of oncological therapies and even prostheses that can be implanted in the human body. In the frame of the university’s Thematic Excellence Program biologists, physicians and engineers work together on developments that improve our quality of life.

Tissue printing or bioprinting sounds futuristic at first, but it is a very topical area of ​​research that is also in the spotlight internationally. The research group at the University of Pécs, working in the frame of the Center for Biomedical Engineering and Innovation deals with important innovations that can be utilized in several fields of healthcare.

“Tissue printing itself is a multi-stage process. First, the cells to be used are cultured and reproduced in a bioreactor, which is basically a container filled with nutrient solution under carefully controlled conditions. The advantage of the bioreactor compared to the usual flat Petri dish is that the cells are visible in three dimensions and the nutrient solution can flow continuously around them. The cells produced this way are then put into the printer. After printing, the produced tissues or organs containing several types of tissue – scientific name: organoids - are matured again in the bioreactor. This can take months for the tissue elements to form a unit and be able to function like the tissues found in the human body” - Professor Judit Pongrácz, head of the research group summarised the technology.

Printed tissue cultures represent an important area in both clinical application and research. The group in Pécs focuses on three main areas of development. One of them is drug research. Artificial tissues are similar in structure and behaviour to natural human tissues and are therefore suitable for toxicological studies and disease modelling. The effects of the tested drug molecules can be observed under the conditions of human cells without the need to experiment on animals at this stage of active substance development. Because human drug reactions are in many cases different from animal drug reactions, drugs tested on human tissues are also safer in subsequent clinical trials.

Although the production of artificial organs that can be implanted in humans is yet to come, the procedure of replacing damaged bones and cartilages with printed tissues will soon be ready for clinical application. Researchers in Pécs are technically able to produce a cell culture from a patient's tissue sample, which can be a simple adipose tissue, into a cartilage or bone and to make a personalized replacement. This is the best possible solution for patients because their body does not have to take in foreign materials. Various organs can be cultured from cancer cells obtained from cancer patients with a similar procedure. Oncologists can try even a large number of potential treatments with the help of these, carefully observing their effects not only on the patient but also on healthy cells. Based on the experiences, they can select the most appropriate treatment and begin the actual therapy of the patient.

In addition to bioprinting, another 14 research groups operate at the University of Pécs in the frame of the Thematic Excellence Program. The physicians and engineers who work in these groups are looking for innovative technological solutions at the peripheries of health and engineering sciences that can improve the quality of patient care and help maintain our quality of life.

Source: 

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