3D printing in the medical field


3D printing gets to work in the medical field with the 3DKarkynos project conducted by ENEA together with the Florentine company Kentstrapper specialized in the production of 3D printers.

3DKarkynos is a project aimed at developing a prototype of vascularized tumor by 3D bio-printing for the screening of chemotherapy drugs.

“This methodology will allow drug screening on a biological model closer to the reality than any other in vitro model available today and to reduce, not only the time and costs of experimentation, but also the use of animal models”, underlines Francesca Antonelli of ENEA Biomedical Technologies Laboratory.

3D printing is responsible for creating a “prototype” of glioblastoma, the already common among brain tumors via a low-cost commercial printer suitably modified and could open up new perspectives in the field of tissue engineering, pharmacological controls and tumor research.

In fact, its innovative value is threefold.

3D printing is therefore allied to the medical sector by modifying the traditional heads for the extrusion of polymeric material: these will be replaced by micro syringes which, through special biological inks built from mixtures of cells, biocompatible polymers and biomolecules, will compose the complex three-dimensional vascularized anatomical structures that in fact they are the tumor models.

These sophisticated devices obtained by 3D printing, using a minimum quantity of samples, will be able to mimic the structures of the tumor’s blood cases, reproducing their microcirculation, functionality and complexities.

3DKarkynos therefore provides for the creation of a miniature copy of the patient’s tumor made with the 3D printing of organic material then grown on a special chip for the test procedures exactly as if the tests were carried out directly on the patient, effectively canceling any possible risk and allowing you to change the care for each individual patient.

The project was selected among the twenty-one initiatives eligible for funding from the 2020 “Proof Of Concept”, an internal investment fund of 2.5 million euros created by ENEA to carry out development projects capable of demonstrating the feasibility of innovative technologies and favoring the technological transfer to industry.


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