A research team at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center's Institute for Regenerative Medicine has won a gold Edison Award for innovations in bioprinting. The Edison Awards™, which recognize and honor innovative new products, services and business leaders, are named after renowned inventor Thomas E. Edison.
The institute received the "Game Changer Award" in the science and medical category for two unique printers designed by institute scientists to print living cells and biomaterials rather than ink. The goal of the bioprinting projects is to print replacement tissues and organs for human patients.
Institute scientists were the first in the world to engineer an organ in the lab that was successfully implanted in patients. These original structures were built by hand using biomaterials and cells. In an effort to scale up this process, institute scientists designed a 3-D bioprinter that allows for the precise placement of cells and for multiple cell types to be printed. The 3-D printer is unique because it can print both gels and synthetic materials, which helps ensure structural integrity of tissues and organs.
The second printer designed by institute scientists is a bioprinter to print skin cells onto burn wounds. The impetus for the project is the need for improved care for patients with severe wounds, who often don't have enough healthy skin to harvest for skin grafts. With this system, a scanner will determine the surface dimensions and depth of the wound, and the data guides the printer to precisely place the appropriate type and number of cells.
Both printers are still in the research stage and not yet ready for use in patients.
Institute scientists who are part of the bioprinter team are Anthony Atala, M.D., director, James Yoo, M.D., Ph.D., professor, Sang Jin Lee, Ph.D., assistant professor, John Jackson, Ph.D., associate professor, Hyun-Wook Kang, Ph.D., fellow, Aleksander Skardal, Ph.D., fellow, Carlos Kengla, Ph.D., student, and Mohammad Z. Albanna, Ph.D.
The awards program is conducted by Edison Universe, a non-profit organization dedicated to fostering future innovators. The Edison Awards™ ballot of nominees is judged by a panel of more than 3,000 individuals, including members of seven different associations representing a wide variety of industries and disciplines. The panel also includes professionals from the fields of product development and design, engineering, science and education.