The latest results in the tissue engineering and biomaterial development field comes from the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering team that work out of Harvard University. Working with the Harvard John A. Paulson School for Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS), the teams have developed a new method of bioprinting "thick vascularized tissue constructs" with the help of 3-D printers.
The tissue constructs consist of human stem cells, "extracellular matrix, and circulatory channels lined with endothelial blood vessel cells," all delivered through a 3-D printer. The team successfully printed a one-centimeter-thick tissue that had bone marrow stem cells as well as connective tissue keeping it together.
When the base for the tissue has been printed, the team then insert fluids, nutrients and cell growth factors into it, which the team claim will, "control stem cell differentiation and sustain cell functions." The future of the project could see a shift in the biomedical engineering industry and what was previously considered the norm in tissue replacement
According to the Printing Vascular Tissue video posted to Harvard University's YouTube page, the engineers admit to the difficulty the industry has had with building tissues and were actively searching for a method to build sustainable vascular tissue.
Zhijan Pei, the National Science Foundation Program Director for the Directorate for Engineering Division of Civil, Mechanical and Manufacturing Innovation, said, "Research such as this enables broader use of 3-D human tissues for drug safety and toxicity screening and, ultimately, for tissue repair and regeneration.” Pei's company should be pleased with the project due to the fact that they have invested the main funding for the project.
Their findings were published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal.