Apr 6, 2017 | By Benedict

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has awarded a a $211,000 R21 grant to an engineer at the University of Texas at Arlington. The money will allow Yi Hong and his partner Guohao Dai to develop 3D printable materials for creating new blood vessels for children with vascular defects.

Bioengineer Yi Hong has been awarded a $211,000 grant from the NIH

3D bioprinted blood vessels are a hot topic right now. Just last week, we reported on research being carried out at Wayne State University, where scientists have developed a blood vessel bioprinting technique called the Ring Stacking Method that could help in the fight against heart disease. That followed a similar 3D printed blood vessel breakthrough at the University of California San Diego a month ago, and now it appears to be the turn of The University of Texas at Arlington, where assistant professor of bioengineering Yi Hong has been awarded a significant NIH grant to develop 3D printable blood vessels.

Hong’s research, which is being carried out with his research partner Guohao Dai of Northeastern University, is particularly important because it aims to develop treatments vascular defects in children, who can be much harder to treat than adults. For example, grafts are often impossible to use in children because they grow slower than a child’s body. This means that they need to be constantly changed, which requires multiple invasive surgeries. Grafts also come with a high risk of thrombosis, which can only be treated with anti-coagulant drugs, which are in turn unsuitable for a child’s often frenetic lifestyle.

Hong and Dai are therefore attempting to develop a range of 3D printable materials that can be used to create elastic, patient-specific blood vessels that will take to the human body—especially that of a child. These materials will be mixed with human cells and 3D printed to create a conduit, which can be attached to organic blood vessels. “Our research is mainly focused on the primary techniques,” Hong said. “It is unique and could be far-reaching because we are developing elastic materials for 3D printing.”

Research on 3D printed blood vessels is also being carried out at Wayne State (above) and UCSD, amongst other universities

Hong, who received his doctoral degree at Zhejiang University in 2005, has been awarded more than $850,000 in research grants over the course of his career. His latest, with its huge implications for the lives of children suffering from vascular defects, could be one of his most important. His approach to 3D printing bioinks to create engineered blood vessels has been described as “innovative” by Michael Cho, chair of the College of Enginering’s Bioengineering Department at The University of Texas at Arlington.

“There are great possibilities from this research, which is a broad look at the possibility of tissue-engineering a blood vessel,” Hong added. “Other groups are investigating 3D printed tissue-engineered blood vessels for use in bypasses or in the abdominal wall, but they do not have the proper bioinks. These are the major parts that will be needed for success in those areas.”



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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