Engineered biological tissues may one day serve as replacement organs to treat a variety of diseases, but today’s main challenge is to scale and combine groups of cells into larger structures. 3D printing is a promising technique, but building complex groups using different kinds of cells may be inappropriate for this technology. A different approach taken by researchers at Brown University takes inspiration from the microelectronics industry to build tissue constructs from different complex parts.
The team created a device called Bio-Pick, Place, and Perfuse (BioP3) which lifts different components and stacks them into larger groupings, much like how circuit boards are assembled. The tissues actually fuse with each other, forming functional systems that can be created in different shapes without relying on scaffolds.
Here’s a video with the researchers showing off the technology:
From a study presenting the Bio-P3 device:
As many as sixteen toroids were stacked over a 170 micron diameter post where they fused over the course of 48 hours to form a single tissue. Larger honeycomb parts were also gripped and stacked onto a build head which, like the gripper head, provided fluid suction to hold as well as perfuse the parts during assembly. Scaffold-free building parts help to address several of the engineering and biological challenges to large tissue biofabrication, and the Bio-P3 described in this paper is a novel instrument for the controlled gripping, placing, stacking, and perfusing of living building parts for solid organ fabrication.
Tissue Engineering Part C: Methods: Bio-Pick, Place, and Perfuse: A New Instrument for 3D Tissue Engineering…
Press release: New technology makes tissues, someday maybe organs…