A new bioprinting technique developed at in Switzerland at the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne has advanced tissue engineers’ ability to create free-form shapes and achieve high cell viability. In just seconds, an optical technique uses a biocompatible hydrogel containing stem cells to sculpt complex tissue shapes that can be vascularized by adding endothelial cells.
The new technique, called volumetric bioprinting, is expected to allow bioengineers to create personalized and functional bio printed organs.
How it works
To create tissue, the researchers project a laser down a spinning tube filled with a stem-cell-laden hydrogel. They shape the tissue by focusing the energy from the light at specific locations, which then solidify. After just a few seconds, a complex 3D shape appears, suspended in the gel. The stem cells in the hydrogel are largely unaffected by this process.
The researchers have created a valve similar to a heart valve, a meniscus, and a complex-shaped part of the femur. To see the process in action, see the video above.
Using this technique, labs could mass-produce artificial tissues or organs at unprecedented speed. This sort of replicability is essential when it comes to testing new drugs in vitro, and it could help obviate the need for animal testing. The team plans to commercialize their work through a spin-off.