The knee meniscus plays an indispensable role in articular surface protection, shock absorption, and stress transmission. Meniscus injuries are extremely prevalent, with an annual incidence of 66 to 70 per 100,000 people. Due to limited vascularization, the regenerative capacity of the meniscus is relatively low and restricted to the most vascularized outer regions. The most commonly performed treatment involves suturing or removal by partial or total meniscectomy. However, meniscectomy significantly increases the incidence of osteoarthritis (OA) later in life by elevating the contact pressure on the tibial plateau. Approximately 50% of patients with meniscal injuries develop OA between 10 and 20 years after the injury. Therefore, optimal treatment options should preserve or mimic the mechanical properties of the meniscus.
3D bioprinting belongs to the family of additive manufacturing (AM) processes that utilize computer-aided design (CAD) for the generation of 3D models through layer-by-layer deposition. The constructs are printed with bioink comprised of viable cells, biomaterials, and additional biological substances. These artificial, cell-laden scaffolds promote and support new tissue formation by providing a suitable environment for cell migration, proliferation, differentiation, and ensuring a proper extracellular matrix (ECM) secretion.
The presentation is focused on a 3D bioprinting-based approach to regenerative medicine of the meniscus. It will also highlight the process of an ECM-based bioink formulation utilizing supercritical CO2 extraction, and a custom-made bioprinting tool on a 6-axis robotic arm.
Acknowledgments: This work was supported by the National Centre for Research and Development TECHMATSTRATEG-III/0027/2019-00 grant.