1Department of Orthopaedics, University Medical Center Utrecht, Utrecht, The Netherlands. Department of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, University Medical Center Utrecht, Utrecht, The Netherlands.
Biofabrication technologies have the potential to improve healthcare by providing highly advanced and personalized biomedical products for research, treatment and prevention. As the combining of emerging techniques and integrating various biological and synthetic components becomes increasingly complex, it is important that relevant stakeholders anticipate the translation of biofabricated 3D tissue products into patients and society. Ethics is sometimes regarded as a brake on scientific progress, yet from our perspective, ethics in parallel with research anticipates societal impacts of emerging technologies and stimulates responsible innovation. For the ethical assessment, the biofabrication field benefits from similarities to regenerative medicine and an increasing ethical awareness in the development of tissue-engineered products. However, the novelty of the technology itself, the increase in attainable structural complexity, and the potential for automation and personalization are distinguishing facets of biofabrication that call for a specific exploration of the ethics of biofabrication. This review aims to highlight important points of existing ethical discussions, as well as to call attention to emerging issues specific to 3D biofabrication in bench and bedside research and the translation to society.