Prototype organ implant
Jorge Rosario, a junior in Course 6-7, wanted to work in a start-up environment where he could provide valuable input while having a certain degree of independence. When Cells for Cells, the first Chilean stem cell therapy research company, received him his first day, he instantly knew he had got what he wanted. “They received me with a disassembled 3D printer in a box and said: “We’ve been waiting for you and have high expectations for this project.”” The project, as it turned out, was the lab’s first attempt at developing a way of producing organ implants through bioprinting.
The first weeks of Jorge’s internship consisted of assembling, testing and optimizing the newly acquired 3D printer; concentrating primarily in assuring its proper function with thermoplastics. During this time, he worked in testing both commonly used materials and new composites created for the lab’s specific purposes. Afterwards, he began to research how to create a new biocompatible material that could be used with the printer’s syringe based extruding mechanism and, alongside his coworkers, found a way of producing a printable material that met their requirements. With the use of 3D modeling software, he was able to create a computer model of a patient’s outer ear and successfully replicated it with the bioprinter. Additionally, they later seeded the ear with stem cells in order to substitute real human cartilage in place of the biomaterial.
Due to its innovative nature, the project garnered great attention from the media, which resulted in being published in newspapers and shown in news broadcasts. “It was great to see how a project that started from nothing had reached this whole new level of complexity and was receiving attention from people all around.” He acquired an immense amount of hands-on skills and was convinced that he could not have had a better way of using his knowledge in biology and computer science than in such a groundbreaking project.