“Biofabrication: Print your heart out” – Presented by Dirk-Jan Cornelissen, Heriot-Watt University

New drugs can take more than 10 years to develop, and only around 16% of drug candidates that begin pre-clinical testing are approved for human use. This low success rate is partially due to the different responses of humans and the animal models currently used for testing. A key challenge in bioprinting has been the development of more gentle printing processes to preserve cellular functions. By encapsulating cells inside a gel, complex 3D structures can be printed with cells suspended throughout.The cells grow and multiply within the structure, forming tissues. By combining these new techniques to 3D bioprint cells with the research generating organ-specific cells from pluripotent stem cells, it should be possible to bioprint 3D micro-tissues that replicate the response and functions of a human organ, but on a much smaller scale. These micro-tissues could be used to improve the efficiency of novel drug testing, or could alternatively be implanted into a patient with a damaged organ.

About Dirk-Jan Cornelissen

Dirk-Jan is a PhD student at the Heriot-Watt University in the Biomedical Microengineering Group of Dr. Will Shu. His research involves the development of 3D bioprinting, to create encapsulated pancreatic islets suitable for transplantation in patients with diabetes type I. Previously, Dirk-Jan studied Biomedical Engineering at the University of Twente.

About Heriot-Watt University

A leading UK university for business and industry with an established reputation for world class teaching and pioneering research.