Research press release


Nature Communications

Biotechnology: 3D printing living materials with programmable ink

微生物インクを用いて、機能性とプログラム可能性という属性を有する3D材料のプリンティングを行うという概念実証研究について報告する論文が、Nature Communications に掲載される。今回の研究では、この技術の使用可能性、例えば環境中に存在する有毒化学物質ビスフェノールA(BPA)の隔離が実証された。


今回、Neel Joshiたちは、遺伝子組み換えによってナノファイバーを生成できるようになった大腸菌から作られた高度な微生物インクを発表した。このナノファイバーは、濃縮でき、3D構造のプリンティングに使用できる。次に、Joshiたちは、このインクと特定の課題を実行するように設計された他の遺伝子組み換え微生物を混ぜてできたヒドロゲルが、機能性を獲得したことを明らかにした。Joshiたちは、このヒドロゲルを用いて、化学刺激に応答して抗がん剤アズリンを放出する材料を作製し、有毒化学物質BPAが環境中に存在する場合にBPAを隔離する材料を設計できた。


A microbial ink, which can be used to print 3D materials with functional and programmable attributes, is reported in a proof-of-concept study published in Nature Communications. The study demonstrates the potential uses of the technology, including sequestering the toxic chemical Bisphenol A (BPA) when it is present in the environment.

Creating a printable ink directly from microbes, without the addition of any other polymers or additives opens up new possibilities for manufacturing in settings where conventional materials may not be available. It also enables the development of materials that can sense and respond to the environment around them. Being able to 3D print these materials could allow for customisation and adaptation to specific applications. Microbial inks, which are composed of living cells, are a potential medium to achieve this, however, they need to combine desirable material properties with cell viability.

Neel Joshi and colleagues present an advanced microbial ink produced from E. coli, which have been genetically engineered to produce nanofibers. These fibres can be concentrated and printed into 3D structures. The authors then combined the ink with other genetically engineered microbes that have been designed to perform specific tasks and found the hydrogel gained functionality. Using the hydrogel, the authors were able to produce a material that secreted the anticancer drug azurin in response to chemical stimulus and were also able to design a material that sequestered the toxic chemical BPA when it is present in the environment.

The findings demonstrate the potential of this technology to print functional materials for biotechnology and biomedical use. The authors conclude that their research may have implications for structure building in space, but further research is needed to explore future customisations.

doi: 10.1038/s41467-021-26791-x


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