Implanting biocompatible materials is nothing new, 3D printing of cells and extracellular matrix is well underway so growing replacement tissues in a lab is within reach. However, certain obstacles remain: How to culture functional tissues with robust and reproducible 3D architecture? Application of support structures can aid, but what if such scaffolds obstruct functionality of the graft while having limited chance of being degraded within the recipient’s body?
Bioplastics are polymers of natural origin that can be degraded enzymatically. We want to use bioplastics for production of 3D printed mesh scaffolds that support cell adhesion, proliferation, differentiation, and maturation (Fig. 1). These scaffolds are designed to be temporal and sacrificial: enzymes will be used to remove the scaffold in a tissue friendly manner prior to implantation allowing tailor made, functional and ideally ‘self-only’ grafts.