Biofabrication is an emerging and rapidly expanding field of research in which additive manufacturing techniques in combination with cell printing are exploited to generate hierarchical tissue-like structures. Materials that combine printability with cytocompatibility, so called bioinks, are currently the biggest bottleneck. Since recombinant spider silk proteins are non-immunogenic, cytocompatible, and exhibit physical crosslinking, their potential as a new bioink system was evaluated. Cell-loaded spider silk constructs can be printed by robotic dispensing without the need for crosslinking additives or thickeners for mechanical stabilization. Cells are able to adhere and proliferate with good viability over at least one week in such spider silk scaffolds. Introduction of a cell-binding motif to the spider silk protein further enables fine-tuned control over cell-material interactions. Spider silk hydrogels are thus a highly attractive novel bioink for biofabrication.
Keywords: biofabrication; cell encapsulation; fibroblasts; hydrogels; spider silk.
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