New method to 3D Print laboratory-grown cells to form living structures, developed by Oxford researchers

New method to 3D Print laboratory-grown cells to form living structures, developed by Oxford researchers

The approach could revolutionise regenerative medicine, enabling the production of complex tissues and cartilage that would potentially support, repair or augment diseased and damaged areas of the body.

Printing high-resolution living tissues is hard to do, as the cells often move within printed structures and can collapse on themselves. But, led by Professor Hagan Bayley, Professor of Chemical Biology in Oxford’s Department of Chemistry, the team devised a way to produce tissues in self-contained cells that support the structures to keep their shape.

The cells were contained within protective nanolitre droplets wrapped in a lipid coating that could be assembled, layer-by-layer, into living structures. Producing printed tissues in this way improves the survival rate of the individual cells, and allowed the team to improve on current techniques by building each tissue one drop at a time to a more favourable resolution.

To be useful, artificial tissues need to be able to mimic the behaviours and functions of the human body. The method enables the fabrication of patterned cellular constructs, which, once fully grown, mimic or potentially enhance natural tissues.

Dr Alexander Graham, lead author and 3D Bioprinting Scientist at OxSyBio (Oxford Synthetic Biology), said: ‘We were aiming to fabricate three-dimensional living tissues that could display the basic behaviours and physiology found in natural organisms. To date, there are limited examples of printed tissues, which have the complex cellular architecture of native tissues.


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You can get up-to-date with the latest developments in 3D Bioprinting and 3D Medical Printing during a two-day focused event on January 30-31, 2018, at MECC Maastricht, The Netherlands. The event includes 2 conferences and an exhibition and will deal with various medical 3D printing areas (bioprinting, prosthetics, pharmaceuticals, dental printing) and medical robotics. For more information about the program and registration, visit

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