Engineers at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore have found a new 3D bioprinting material that is durable yet flexible and also biocompatible: sunflower pollen is the ideal candidate.
First, the researchers made a microgel from solid pollen particles and mixed it with hyaluronic acid and biocollagen. Then they printed bioskaffold from the resulting bio-ink – this is a three-dimensional polymer that is implanted into the body and helps in cell regeneration.
Collagen was then added to the bioscaffold to create anchor points for human tissue cells. As a result, the researchers found that bioscaffold works 96-97% efficiently: it is filled with cells, which then reproduce and continue to form biological tissue.
The authors note that only materials made from inverted colloidal crystalline hydrogels have such efficiency: they take much more time and effort to create.
The authors believe the pollen microgel could be used to create a new class of environmentally friendly 3D printing materials.