Purpose of review: Pancreatic islet cell transplantation is currently the only curative cell therapy for type 1 diabetes mellitus. However, its potential to treat many more patients is limited by several challenges. The emergence of 3D bioprinting technology from recent advances in 3D printing, biomaterials, and cell biology has provided the means to overcome these challenges.
Recent findings: 3D bioprinting allows for the precise fabrication of complex 3D architectures containing spatially distributed cells, biomaterials (bioink), and bioactive factors. Different strategies to capitalize on this ability have been investigated for the 3D bioprinting of pancreatic islets. In particular, with co-axial bioprinting technology, the co-printability of islets with supporting cells such as endothelial progenitor cells and regulatory T cells, which have been shown to accelerate revascularization of islets and improve the outcome of various transplantations, respectively, has been achieved. 3D bioprinting of islets for generation of an artificial pancreas is a newly emerging field of study with a vast potential to improve islet transplantation.
Keywords: 3D bioprinting; Endothelial progenitor cell therapy; Pancreatic islet transplantation; Regulatory T cell therapy; Type 1 diabetes.