3D printable SiO2 nanoparticle ink for patient specific bone regeneration†
Sodium alginate and gelatin are biocompatible & biodegradable natural polymer hydrogels, which are widely investigated for application in tissue engineering using 3D printing and 3D bioprinting fabrication techniques. The major challenge of using hydrogels for tissue fabrication is their lack of regeneration ability, uncontrolled swelling, degradation and inability to hold 3D structure on their own. Free hydroxyl groups on the surface of SiO2 nanoparticles have the ability to chemically interact with alginate–gelatin polymer network, which can be explored to achieve the above parameters. Hence validating the incorporation of SiO2 nanoparticles in a 3D printable hydrogel polymer network, according to the patient's critical defects has immense scope in bone tissue engineering. In this study, SiO2 nanoparticles are loaded into alginate–gelatin composite hydrogels and chemically crosslinked with CaCl2 solution. The effect of SiO2 nanoparticles on the viscosity, swelling, degradation, compressive modulus (MPa), biocompatibility and osteogenic ability were evaluated on lyophilized scaffolds and found to be desirable for bone tissue engineering. A complex irregular patient-specific virtual defect was created and the 3D printing process to fabricate such structures was evaluated. The 3D printing of SiO2 nanoparticle hydrogel composite ink to fabricate a bone graft using a patient-specific virtual defect was successfully validated. Hence this type of hydrogel composite ink has huge potential and scope for its application in tissue engineering and nanomedicine.