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There has been a continuous increase in the demand on tissue and organ transplantation. However, despite the larger number of demands, there is not enough supply of organs and tissues. The gap between the supply and demand in the organ transplantation is ever more increasing, in other words, many patients are waiting in line for the organ transplantation. In order to solve this problem, the research team led by the Professor Dong-Woo Cho from Pohang University of Science and Technology (POSTECH) has been focusing on tissue engineering and more specifically, developing the 3Dimensional (3D) cell printing technology for regeneration of large volume of complex tissue.


The development of 3D Cell printing Technology

The research requires the patient’s actual data such as CT and MRI. The data will be transferred to CAD/CAM based 3D modelling and process codes for 3D printing. 3D printed tissue and organ are made via the following steps. The patient’s actual data such as CT and MRI is used as a starting point to develop a 3D-CAD/CAM model for the framework of the tissue or organ. A 3D-printer uses synthetic biomaterials to print the framework. Then, bio ink, which contains a hydrogel and cells of the patient, will be printed on the framework at the right spot using another machine. This process will be repeated layer by layer to make the pre-tissue. Later, this will go through in vitro cultivation or transplantation into body in order to be adapted as a real tissue or organ. The bio ink which is used in this case also contains nutrients and substances that will help the cells grow. This 3D cell printing system with bio ink uses extrusion and inkjet modules on the printer simultaneously. This method is the world’s first method of simultaneous printing, and its generation level is much higher than the existing technology. By using this module, the researchers engineered a collagen based material with a polycaprolactone (PCL) membrane. PCL is biodegradable polyester that prevents collagen’s contraction during tissue maturation. The researchers used the inkjet-based dispensing module to uniformly distribute keratinocytes (the predominant cell type in the outermost layer of the skin) onto the engineered skin (IOP Publishing). In addition, the conventional bio ink could not mimic the characteristic of tissue specific biochemical. For this reason, the researchers have engineered the world first decellularized Extra-Cellular matrix (dECM) bio ink for 3D printing technology; dECM bio ink is capable of providing an optimized microenvironment conductive to the growth of 3D structured tissue. They have published this research on Nature Communications. The development of tissue specific bio ink has become a base technology which could help improve tissue/organ regeneration ten times more than the existing technology. Now, the team is researching various applications. They are experimenting to regenerate bones, cartilage, muscle, fat, skin, liver, airway, brain, retina, heart and blood vessel.


Core features

The core feature of this technology is that it is possible to customize the treatment for each patient’s specific conditions. The doctors or researchers can simply select the needed materials for treatments and can produce 3D printed human tissue/organ immediately and applied to the specific location. This new method is 50 times cheaper than alternative methods and requires 10 times less base material. While the existing method is complicated and requires multiple steps to regenerate the tissue/organ, this 3D cell printing technology is simple and only requires one single step. It is expected that this single step process could provide an attractive and useful platform for engineering fully functional human skin models.


Application to animal models

The research team has successfully tested the reconstruction of tissue/organs by applying above technology to animals. They have successfully printed the fat, blood vessel, heart muscle and respiratory tract and so on and transplanted to small animals like rat and big animals like canine and porcine. These results were published in various medical journals. Other than the above mentioned tissue/organs, they are currently researching on cartilage, ligament, bone and meniscus and skin, etc.


Success of clinical testing of nasal cavity stent and cheek bone

Due to the lack of regulations to the 3D printing of organs/tissues, the research team were able to first test the nasal cavity stent and cheek bone to human body. The research team had two clinical tests already and both tests were very successful. The first case was applied to a patient who did not have a nose and nasal cavity due to birth defect. The research team applied and inserted nasal cavity and stent until the mucosa could be regenerated by itself. After mucosa was regenerated, the research team removed the stent. Three years had passed since the surgery and the patient can still breathe well with the regenerated nasal cavity. The second case was for a patient who had suffered from the nasal cavity cancer. The patient had to remove some of his cheek bones. The research team made a biodegradable artificial bone for the patient. After 4 weeks since the surgery, the patient can now live like a normal person which he have never thought would be possible because of his irregular face structure. The research team is expecting that using this 3D cell printing technology, it will be possible to fulfill the demand of organ transplantation. Also, the platform for copying the human body tissue/organ can establish a foothold of developing advanced new medicine.


(Jeong Eun Ha, Officer for Innovation, Technology and Science, June 19, 2017)



·  Biomimetic 3D tissue printing for soft tissue regeneration, Falguni Pati, Dong-Heon Ha, Jinah Jang, Hyun Ho Han, Jong-Won Rhie, Dong-Woo Cho, Biomaterials (

· Tissue Engineered Bio-Blood-Vessels Constructed Using a Tissue-Specific Bioink and 3D Coaxial Cell Printing Technique: A Novel Therapy for Ischemic Disease, Ge Gao, Jun Hee Lee, Jinah Jang, Dong Han Lee, Jeong-Sik Kong, Byoung Soo Kim, Yeong-Jin Choi, Woong Bi Jang, Young Joon Hong, Sang-Mo Kwon, Dong-Woo Cho, Advanced functional materials,(

· 3D printed complex tissue construct using stem cell-laden decellularized extracellular matrix bioinks for cardiac repair, Jinah Jang, Hun-Jun Park, Seok-Won Kim, Heejin Kim, Ju Young Park, Soo Jin Na, Hyeon Ji Kim, Moon Nyeo Park, Seung Hyun Choi, Sun Hwa Park, Sung Won Kim, Sang-Mo Kwon, Pum-Joon Kim, Dong-Woo Cho, Biomaterials (

· A novel tissue-engineered trachea with a mechanical behavior similar to native trachea, Jeong Hun Park, Jung Min Hong, Young Min Ju, Jin Woo Jung, Hyun-Wook Kang, Sang Jin Lee, James J. Yoo, Sung Won Kim, Soo Hyun Kim, Dong-Woo Cho, Biomaterials (

· "Center for Rapid Prototyping based 3D Tissue/Organ Printing." Center for Rapid Prototyping based 3D Tissue/Organ Printing. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 June 2017.

· IOP Publishing. "3D printing breakthrough heralds 'new era' for advanced skin models." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 11 June 2017. .

· W. (2014, December 15). Professor Dong Woo CHO from Intelligent Manufacturing System LAB at POSTEC. Retrieved July 28, 2017, from

· POSTECH Intelligenet Manufacturing System LAB. (n.d.). Retrieved July 28, 2017, from