Researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital have just made a bioprinting breakthrough in vessel and duct replacement. A new process enables them to mimic the precise nutrient flow for vascular tissues and urothelial tissues using printed tubular structures. Eventually, the research could play a massive role in fighting diseases such as arthritis or other muscular disorders.
The study employs the use of various tubular structures tubular structures that play the role native vessels and ducts in the human body once served. The researchers also fine-tuned the properties of the tissues, allowing them to have more layers and to better transport nutrients. These tissues are far more complex than previous iterations and could be viable replacements for damaged tissue.
“The vessels in the body are not uniform,” said Zhang Yu, senior author of the study and researcher in the Department of Medicine. “This bio-printing method generates complex tubular structures that mimic those in the human system with higher fidelity than previous techniques.”
Bioprinting Tubular Tissues
Like many previous bio-printing projects, the researchers mixed a hydrogel with living human cells. They then printed these out as multilayered tubular tissues or organs with cellular heterogeneity. They also developed a custom nozzle for advanced forms of bioprinting in up to 3 layers. As the study states: “These perfusable cannular constructs can be continuously tuned up from monolayer to triple layers at regular intervals across the length of a bioprinted tube”.
The tubes come in various sizes, which allows them to better copy the behaviour of vessels and ducts in the body. This complexity arises naturally in the body and has been very difficult to replicate. The researchers printed a mixture of human endothelial cells, smooth muscle cells and the hydrogel itself.
Birmingham Hopsital has been prolific in their previous research as well. They once even demonstrated the potential of printing blood vessels. This research follows in those same footsteps, going even further. The research has the potential to provide insight into a ton of different problems. Arteritis, atherosclerosis and thrombosis damage blood vessels and issues that urothelial tissue can suffer such as inflammatory lesions and deleterious congenital anomalies. Further research could open up potential cures to all these issues and much more.
Featured image courtesy of VCG photo.