Carrying out lengthy space expeditions poses a somewhat obvious yet problematic risk: Scarce resources and a lack of specialized medical care.
Hence, the drive for tissue transplants while on long-term space exploration missions.
Moscow-based 3D Bioprinting Solutions was able to bioprint bone tissue in micro-gravity by growing fragments of bone structure on the International Space Station (ISS). The bone tissue was bioprinted using the Organ.Aut bioprinter, which was designed to perform this unique task in zero gravity.
The tests on the ISS were made from calcium-phosphate ceramics populated by living cells. The bioprinter uses tissue spheroids, which are bound together by the principle of magnetic levitation. The ceramic spheroids interact with one another by forming chemical bonds to create an evenly distributed surface of engineered tissue.
Last October, the prints were carried back to Earth. After a thorough analysis, they have been confirmed to show high biological activity.
3D Bioprinting Solutions are considering continuing this project, but will now aim more complex geometries that resemble those found in human bones.
This sets the course for future tissue transplants in space, whether as a consequence of accidents, illness, or a likely threat: Bone structure degeneration in micro-gravity.