The breakthroughs in bioinks and extrusion bioprinting are opening unprecedented doors in the medical field, leading the way to novel methods for regenerating tissues and advancing healing. This cutting-edge approach utilizes a concoction of living cells and natural substances, termed bioinks, to construct three-dimensional shapes that closely resemble and function like human tissues and organs. Through a precise layering technique known as extrusion bioprinting, these bioinks pave the way for groundbreaking treatments for injuries and diseases, heralding a new era of personalized medicine and more effective drug testing.

A pivotal study published in Bioactive Materials highlights significant strides in this area, thanks to the collaborative effort of Dr. Xiongbiao Chen and his team, including Abbas Yazdi, Xiaoman Duan, Amanda Zimmerling, Dr. Reza Gharraei, and Dr. Nitin Sharma from the University of Saskatchewan, alongside Sanad Sweilem and Dr. Liqun Ning from Cleveland State University. Their research demonstrates the potent application of bioinks and extrusion bioprinting, pushing the boundaries of what’s possible in tissue engineering and regenerative medicine.

Extrusion bioprinting is distinguished as a key technique for the precise application of these bioinks, layer by layer, to form structures that could dramatically transform the treatment and repair of tissue and organ damage. This method offers hope not only for the restoration of damaged skin, cartilage, bones, nerves, and more complex organs but also presents a novel method for developing tissue models in the laboratory. “Extrusion bioprinting enables us to craft complex, layered structures essential for generating functional tissues,” Dr. Chen clarifies.

The research thoroughly investigates the critical characteristics bioinks must have for effective bioprinting, emphasizing the need for proper physical, flow, structural, and biological qualities. Dr. Chen notes, “The flow properties of bioinks play a decisive role in their suitability for printing, directly impacting the success of the bioprinting endeavor. Our study brings to light the importance of bioinks that not only hold their form but also support cellular growth and transformation.”

Adopting a broad and innovative approach, the study aims to tackle the complex demands of bioprinted tissues. The team explored various strategies, including tweaking the composition of bioinks to optimize their flow for printing, creating new bioinks that enhance biological activity, and integrating cells and growth factors to promote tissue development and recovery. These initiatives strive to create bioinks that meet both the structural and biological needs of the tissues being printed, facilitating their maturation and integration after placement in the body.

The research also addresses the challenges of maintaining the right consistency for printing and ensuring the survival and functionality of cells within the printed structures. It highlights the role of different materials—natural, synthetic, and hybrids—in creating bioinks, each with its own set of benefits and limitations in terms of body compatibility, strength, and biological activity. “Achieving an equilibrium between bioink viscosity and cell viability is crucial for the creation of functioning bioprinted tissues and organs,” Dr. Chen remarks.

Furthermore, the study points out ongoing challenges in extrusion bioprinting, such as enhancing the vascularization of constructs and developing bioinks that more closely mimic the intricate chemical environment of natural tissues. “Improving the creation of blood vessels in bioprinted structures is among our biggest challenges, requiring innovative solutions to ensure these engineered tissues remain viable and functional long term,” Dr. Chen adds. In conclusion, the study sets a progressive agenda for future research in extrusion bioprinting, calling for advances in bioink technology, printing methods, and the post-printing development of constructs. As this field continues to grow, the collaborative efforts of Dr. Chen and his team at the University of Saskatchewan and Cleveland State University lay a solid foundation, guiding the scientific and medical communities towards the next wave of solutions for some of the most complex health challenges faced today.


X.B. Chen et al., “Bioactive Materials: Bioinks and Extrusion Bioprinting,” Bioactive Materials 28 (2023) 511–536. DOI: