Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Laying Pipes

Engineering rapid microvessel formation by 3D bioprinting with a new bio-ink

06 May 2022

Laying Pipes

A thriving community can’t move into a brand new building until a full network of plumbing is in place. The same applies in tissue engineering. To support cell growth at a useful scale in a supportive hydrogel environment, the structures need rapid vascularisation – the formation of vessels to transport nutrients and other materials. A new approach encourages this at two scales, creating both large open channels and dense clusters of microcapillaries (tiny vessel networks) with a new bio-ink called gelatin-norbornene, which is compatible with standard 3D bioprinting methods. It enables cells that form connective tissue and vessel linings to assemble into shape (pictured, with red connective cells bridging across channels to allow green vessel lining cells to migrate across). This combination of a new bio-ink with cell biology and custom structural designs can help engineer vascularised tissues, essential for developing tissue engineering to ultimately help patients in need.

Written by Anthony Lewis

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