For some time, biomedical research has begun to change the concept of “artificial organ” pushing to adopt new technologies such as 3D printing. This methodology has not only allowed us to create a more simple and economic organs, but also has allowed us to create real “molds” to enable the reconstruction of tissues by stem cells.
Did not exist, however, an artificial connection, created from scratch, at level of the blood vessels. It seemed far from a reality, until a few days ago, to feed the organs implanted through artificial blood vessels, when a team from the Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) was able to manufacture them-once again-using 3D printing.
“The engineers have made incredible progress in replicating complex artificial tissues such as the heart, liver and lungs,” said the coordinator of the project, Ali Khademhosseini, PhD, biomedical engineer, and director of the BWH Biomaterials Innovation Research Center. “However, the creation of artificial blood vessels remains a key challenge of tissue engineering. We tried to address this challenge by offering a unique strategy for vascularization with hydrogel products that combine bioprinting 3D technology advances and biomaterials. ”
The researchers used initially a bioprinter 3D to create a mold in agarose (a molecule based on sugar). They then coated the mold with a jelly-like substance called hydrogel.
Khademhosseini and his team were able to build microchannels networks which have different architectural features. They were also able to successfully incorporate these microchannels functional within a wide range of commonly used hydrogels such as methacrylate or polyethylene glycol at different concentrations.
Furthermore, they were able to form endothelial monolayers within the channels. In fact, even if achieved in order to create synthetic blood vessels, we really have to come to terms with reality: the inner walls of human blood vessels contain a special layer of endothelial cells that play a key role in vascular biology, such as the filtration of fluids and the passage of hormones.
“In the future, 3D printing technology can be used to develop transplantable tissues tailored to each patient’s needs or be used outside of the body to develop safe and effective drugs” said Khademhosseini.
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