Key Terms

Find additional information about important aspects of the biofabrication industry.

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Automation

Automation refers to the use of machines to perform repetitive tasks previously done by humans. Automation will allow the biofabrication industry to scale up and increase production.

Biofabrication

Biofabrication is an aspect of regenerative medicine that refers to the production of human tissues from organic and synthetic sources.

There are four stages of the biofabrication process:

  • Cell Culture & Harvest

  • Scaffold Fabrication

  • Tissue Maturation & Bioreactor Culture

  • Packaging, Preservation, & Transport

Automation is a vital component to every stage of the biofabrication process.

Bioinks

A combination of cells and other biological or non-biological materials that are used as the 'ink' in a bioprinter. Examples of other materials include gelatin, pluronic, hyaluronic acid, and collagen.

Biomarkers

A biomarker is any measurement of a biological process in the body, such as blood pressure or heart rate. Biomarkers are used to help us understand how the body reacts to interventions such as new medicines or treatments.

Bioprinting

Just like conventional 3D printing, bioprinting is a process used to create three-dimensional structures layer by layer. Bioinks made from living cells can be formed into tissue, bone, vessels, and whole organs.

Biosensors

A biosensor is a device that measures and records a biological response in the body. Biosensors can measure anything from a person's heartbeat to a particular substance in a blood sample, such as glucose levels in diabetics, to detecting cancer cells in the body.

Cell

A cell is the basic functional unit of life.

Eukaryotic organisms are multicellular organisms; e.g. animals, plants, fungi.

Prokaryotic organisms are single cells; e.g. bacteria, archaea.

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Photo credit: Creative Biolabs

Cell Banking

Cell banking is commonly used in regenerative medicine and tissue engineering. It refers to the process of storing cells for future use.

Chronic Diseases

Chronic Diseases are conditions that require ongoing medical attention for extended periods.

Chronic diseases such as heart disease, lower respiratory disease, cancer, kidney disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and diabetes are the leading causes of death and disability in the United States.

The length of time required for a condition to be considered chronic depends on the disease.

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Expansion Culture

Cell expansion is the process of taking cells from a tissue and using growth factors to help them reproduce in an laboratory.

A scientist working with cell cultures
Photo credit: Jackie Ricciardi / Boston University

Growth Factors

A growth factor is a substance that stimulates cells to grow. Often made from proteins, growth factors feed cells and prompt them to heal or regenerate.

Regenerative Medicine

Regenerative medicine is the science of regrowing, repairing or replacing diseased cells, organs, or tissues. Tissue engineering and biofabrication are aspects of regenerative medicine.

Photo credit: Rice Catalyst

Scaffold

Scaffolds are structures used in tissue engineering to provide a shape for new cells to grow onto. They often biodegrade in the body once the new tissue has established itself. 3D printers are often used to create scaffolds.

Targeted Therapy

Targeted therapy is a type of cancer treatment that uses medicine designed to target certain cells in the body. It can be less toxic than traditional chemotherapy because it only affects cancer cells, instead of also killing healthy cells.

Tissue Engineering

Tissue engineering is an aspect of regenerative medicine. It refers to the process of producing materials to repair or replace damaged or diseased biological tissues in the body.