31. January 2022
Matthias Maurer conducts Bioprint FirstAid experiment on the ISS

3D-print­ed bio-plas­ter

Matthias Maurer conducting the Bioprint FirstAid Experiment
Matthias Mau­r­er con­duct­ing the Bio­print FirstAid Ex­per­i­ment
Image 1/4, Credit: NASA/ESA

Matthias Maurer conducting the Bioprint FirstAid Experiment

ESA as­tro­naut Matthias Mau­r­er con­duct­ed the Bio­print FirstAid ex­per­i­ment on the In­ter­na­tion­al Space Sta­tion (ISS). The handy 3D print­er can be used to print a stick­ing-plas­ter-like lay­er to cov­er wounds.
The Bioprinter FirstAid device
The Bio­print­er FirstAid de­vice
Image 2/4, Credit: OHB

The Bioprinter FirstAid device

The Bio­print­er can be op­er­at­ed man­u­al­ly and con­sists of a han­dle, a print head, guide wheels and two car­tridges for the bio-ink. The mo­bile hand­held de­vice is in­tend­ed to sig­nif­i­cant­ly im­prove wound care on space mis­sions, but al­so in dai­ly med­i­cal use on Earth.
Bioplaster on Matthias Maurer's leg
Bio­plas­ter on Matthias Mau­r­er's leg
Image 3/4, Credit: NASA/ESA

Bioplaster on Matthias Maurer's leg

Dur­ing the Bio­print-FirstAid ex­per­i­ment on the ISS, Ger­man ESA as­tro­naut Matthias Mau­r­er pro­duced var­i­ous bio­plas­ters and ap­plied them to a foil on his leg.
Sticking plaster created using bio-ink
Stick­ing plas­ter cre­at­ed us­ing bio-ink
Image 4/4, Credit: NASA/ESA

Sticking plaster created using bio-ink

In the ex­per­i­ment, two dif­fer­ent com­po­si­tions of bio-ink and two dif­fer­ent print heads were used to print dif­fer­ent plas­ters for cov­er­ing wounds.
  • As part of the 'Cosmic Kiss' mission, German ESA astronaut Matthias Maurer conducted the Bioprint FirstAid experiment on the International Space Station ISS.
  • The long-term goal of the experiment is to cover skin wounds with bio-ink from a 3D printer like a sticking plaster.
  • The new technology should help to significantly improve wound care during space missions, but also in daily medical use on Earth.
  • Focus: Spaceflight, Cosmic Kiss

Human cells in a 3D printer that can be used to cover wounds like a sticking plaster – this is the long-term goal of the Bioprint FirstAid experiment. As part of his 'Cosmic Kiss' mission, German ESA astronaut Matthias Maurer has now carried out this series of experiments on the International Space Station ISS. The mobile handheld device is intended to significantly improve wound treatment on space missions, but also in daily medical use on Earth. "With Bioprint FirstAid, this innovative technology has now been tested under space conditions for the first time," says Michael Becker, Bioprint FirstAid Project Manager for the German Space Agency at the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR). "Bioprinting is an important step towards personalised medicine in space and on Earth."

The Bioprinter can be operated manually and consists of a handle, a print head, guide wheels and two cartridges for the bio-ink that is used to produce the plaster-like wound covering. During the experiment on the ISS, this ink was first applied to a foil on Matthias Maurer's leg. Two bio-inks with different compositions and two different print heads were used. "The technology experiment has not yet used real human cells in this first step, but fluorescent microparticles," says Becker. "The findings will help scientists to further develop the technology and enable applications for patients."

Improved wound healing in space and on Earth

Due to its compact design and easy, mobile use, the printing technology has great potential not only for use in medical practices and clinics, but also for flexible treatment in remote locations or places that are difficult to access. Thus, the Bioprinter can be used on future long-term space missions as well as at research stations in remote locations, such as Antarctica.

Once the experiment has been completed, the patches printed on the ISS will be brought back to Earth for further testing and analysis. In the meantime, scientists from the Technische Universität Dresden (TU Dresden) are conducting comparative experiments on the ground to verify the results of the ISS experiment following the return of the plasters. This investigation aims to explore the behaviour of the system as a function of different pressure nozzles and different bio-inks. In addition, the distribution of microparticles in microgravity will be investigated.

To discuss the possible applications of 3D printing in medicine at an international level, the German Space Agency at DLR, the European Space Agency (ESA) and TU Dresden are planning to hold a workshop on 'Bioprinting in Space' on 15 and 16 March 2022 in Dresden. Astronauts as well as experts from the fields of bioprinting and life science research in space will participate in this exchange.

The Bioprint FirstAid experiment was implemented on behalf of the German Space Agency at DLR with funding from the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action (Bundesministerium für Wirtschaft und Klimaschutz; BMWK). The system was developed and built by OHB System AG in collaboration with scientists from TU Dresden.

The 'Cosmic Kiss' mission

DLR is involved in the 'Cosmic Kiss' mission in many ways. The German Space Agency at DLR, based in Bonn, is responsible for selecting and coordinating the experiments and contributions from German universities and colleges, as well as from industry. DLR scientists are also conducting their own experiments. ESA's Columbus Control Centre, located at DLR's German Space Operations Center in Oberpfaffenhofen, is responsible for planning and conducting the experiments that take place in the European Columbus module on the ISS. From here, the data from the experiments are sent to the national user control centres and from there to the scientists and the participating industry partners.

Contact
  • Diana Gonzalez
    Ger­man Aerospace Cen­ter (DLR)
    Ger­man Space Agen­cy at DLR
    Strat­e­gy and Com­mu­ni­ca­tions
    Telephone: +49 228 447-388
    Königswinterer Straße 522-524
    53227 Bonn
    Contact
  • Michael Becker
    Ger­man Aerospace Cen­ter (DLR)
    Ger­man Space Agen­cy at DLR
    Re­search and Ex­plo­ration
    Königswinterer Straße 522-524
    53227 Bonn
    Contact
Newsletter

Newslet­ter

Stay up to date and sub­scribe to the DLR newslet­ter with ar­ti­cles from the DLR ed­i­to­ri­al team in Ger­man and En­glish.

Latest News

Main menu