Regenerative Medicine Utrecht

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Prof. dr. ir. J. Malda receives the Anna-Prize 2017 for his research line with focus on bioprinting of cartilage tissue.

On October 13th Professor Jos Malda received the Anna-Prize 2017 from the Anna Foundation | NOREF (Netherlands Orthopedic Research and Education Foundation). The bi-annual Anna-Prize is awarded since 1993 to a prominent orthopedic scientist who developed a special line of research and is performing excellent research of the musculoskeletal system. The Anna Foundation provides support for orthopedic research with the mission to contribute to helping people keep their joints and bones in good condition so they can move in freedom and remain self-supporting.

Jos Malda receives the prize for developing his line of research with focus on bioprinting of cartilage tissues. By means of 3D-printing of living cells in combination with supporting materials, Malda is working on the development of implant for the treatment of damage to joints, both in men and animals. Malda is investigating how to create and develop technologies that make it possible to print living cells and supporting materials at the same time. For this purpose, new bioprinting strategies are developed through a combination of robotic dispension, electrospinning and stereolithography.

He is also working on the development of biomaterials, especially for the regeneration of damage to the cartilage and the underlying bone.

New types of bioinks are under development. Bioinks, the material that makes printing of living cells possible, must meet two important standards. Firstly, to support the specific differentiation of cells to cartilage and bone tissue and secondly, provide sufficient strength to create personalized 3D tissues. ‘With this technology, ultimately we want to make personalized implants with cells from the patient and without metals’ says Malda.

The research is still in the experimental phase. It will probably take ten to fifteen years before it is beneficial for patients. ‘It is already possible to keep cells alive during printing and we can arrange cells correctly, the next step is ensuring good function. Cells have to communicate mutually, as is happening in the body. It is still challenging to achieve this: arranging maturation of the printed tissue and making sure that it can take over the function of the original tissue. But in the future’ is Malda’s expectation ‘tissues can be fabricated with cells from each patient’s that can be transplanted to recover bone or cartilage’.