UIC Barcelona researchers make progress in manufacturing a biomaterial from bone cells to be used in construction

The results of the study, led by Alberto T. Estévez and Yomna K. Abdallah, have been published in the Journal of Regenerative Medicine

UIC Barcelona School of Architecture lecturers Alberto T. Estévez and Yomna K. Abdallah have made a leap in manufacturing a biomineralised building material using advanced 3D digital printing techniques and bone cells. Their research was published in the Journal of Regenerative Medicine under the title “Biomaterials & Architecture: A Possible Future: Bio Printing Architecture”.

Their research methodology was based on a biolearning model aimed at the fabrication of an autonomously biomineralised material designed for future application in the field of architecture. To do this, the researchers used bone cells (specifically, SaOs-2 osteosarcoma cells) that were encapsulated in GelMA hydrogel to allow them to grow and biomineralise. “Bone tissue is the key reference in this study due to its capacity for self-repair and continuous growth or morphogenesis”, explain Alberto T. Estévez and Yomna K. Abdallah.

After encapsulating the bone cells in hydrogel, the researchers proceeded to the direct extrusion bioprinting of three models corresponding to three different architectural scales: a house, a block of flats and an urban or city design. Then, using these three printed models, they analysed which of the three geometric compositions allowed for the greatest survival of bone cells, and found that the block of flats was the design with the highest cell viability. “The orthogonal square or rectangular planar is the most biocompatible and maintains adequate circulation of media and oxygen that allows cells to survive longer. It is also interesting that the differential growth pattern was the second to achieve the highest shape fidelity and cell viability. This pattern has never been applied to bioprinting before and opens up great potential for the future”, they explain.

“This study is a first step towards developing a biomineralised material that can be applied in the future as a building material in the field of architecture. However, further studies are needed to improve the properties of the hydrogel to enable us to print high-resolution complex geometric shapes while maintaining high cell viability rates”, the researchers conclude.

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