Advances in printing biomaterials and living cells: implications for islet cell transplantation

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Purpose of review

Rapid advances in bioprinting have attracted the attention of the clinical world. The advent of printable, cytocompatible materials and appropriate hardware provides an unprecedented ability to design and create 3D structures throughout which living cells and bioactive components are strategically distributed. Here, we review those advances and present how they can be used to create new structures for more effective islet cell transplantation.

Recent findings

There is a need for improvements in the delivery vehicle for transplantable islet cells. Significant progress has been made in 3D printing of multicellular structures and vascularized structures and multiple bioactive molecules. Strategies for extending these recent findings to islet transplantation are discussed. More importantly, the first promising step, 3D printing human islets has recently been demonstrated.


The advent of 3D bioprinting provides unprecedented opportunities for islet transplantation. Highlighting the capabilities of 3D bioprinting should also encourage clinicians to consider other areas appropriate for its use.

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