THREE-dimensional (3D) printing continues to drive innovations in many disciplines, including engineering, manufacturing, aerospace, global security, and medicine, to name only a few. Most 3D products are made of plastics or metals, but cutting-edge 3D printing techniques have been leveraged in the biomedical engineering field using bioinks—a fluid with biological components—to manufacture vascularized tissue. Once refined, this approach could be used to engineer complete human organs for implantation and to assess medical treatments.
A Lawrence Livermore team, led by biomedical engineer Monica Moya and supported by Livermore’s Laboratory Directed Research and Development Program, has been refining a bioprinting approach for two years. The process involves producing and printing bioinks with cell-containing materials and a viscosity similar to that of honey. A bioprinter deposits the bioink into a specially designed sectioned device that acts as a sort of dynamic petri dish, establishing a feeding system to direct the growth of a vascularized network.
The team has already created vascularized tissue patches and envisions some day establishing hierarchical vascular networks similar to those in the human body, as a step toward developing larger 3D organs. Moya says, “Having a hierarchical, vascularized patch of tissue—meaning tissue with vessels that can be connected to and perfused—has great potential for medical implantation.” These patches could transform approaches to organ repair, disease remedy, toxicology, and medical treatment testing.Read more