Jun 20, 2018 | By Thomas

Prellis Biologics, a San Francisco-based 3D tissue printing company, announced that it has reached record speed and resolution in the quest to print human tissue with viable capillaries, bringing the goal of printing human replacement organs closer to reality.

An estimated 330 people in the United States die each day due to organ failure. Replacement organs and tissues will both lower costs and free patients from dialysis, oxygen tanks, daily insulin injections, and other life-altering interventions. Founded by two scientists with extensive experience in 3D tissue imaging and stem cell biology, Prellis Biologics aims to eliminate the wait list for human organ transplants and speed up development of vital new drug therapies.

“A major goal in tissue engineering is to create viable human organs, but nobody could print tissue with the speed and resolution needed to form viable capillaries,” said Melanie Matheu, PhD, CEO and co-founder of Prellis Biologics. “At Prellis, we’ve now developed that technology, paving the way for important medical advances and, ultimately, functional organ replacements.”

Prellis’ holographic 3D printing technology can create the complex microvascular and scaffolding that allows human tissue to survive. However printing speed is crucial, since cells can only survive for a limited amount of time without a blood supply. And tissue that is densely packed with cells will die in less than 30 minutes unless oxygen and nutrients can be supplied immediately, through capillaries.

In addition, fine printing resolution is as vital as speed, since capillaries are microscopic in size — about 5 to 10 microns in diameter (in comparison, a human hair is 75 to 100 microns). Prellis’ technology can 3D print with resolutions as small as 0.5 microns.

This real-time video shows tiny florescent particles - 5 microns in diameter (the same size as a red blood cell) - moving through an array of 105 capillaries printed in parallel, inside a 700 micron diameter tube. Each capillary is 250 microns long.

Until now, it would take weeks or more to print just a centimeter cube of human tissue with microvasculature. According to the company, its technology can print high-resolution tissue structures up to 1000 times faster, with the vasculature in place. “The speed we can achieve is limited only by the configuration of the optical system,” Dr. Matheu says. “We are now exploring custom optical system development, which will dramatically increase our capabilities. Our ultimate goal is to print the entire vascular system of a kidney in 12 hours or less.”

Prellis’ new technology opens the door to the production of thick, functioning tissue for drug and toxicology testing, and ultimately human organs. The biotechnology market has a significant unmet need for lab-grown human tissue. The demand for alternatives to organ replacement by transplant, along with the burgeoning need for human tissue in drug discovery and toxicology testing, is revolutionizing the field. The 3D bio-printing market, including both pharmacological and clinical applications, is currently estimated to be worth about $500 million, rapidly expanding to as much as $10 billion by 2020.

Jordan Miller, PhD, Assistant Professor of Bioengineering at Rice University and an expert in 3D-printed implantable biomaterial structures, affirmed the importance of Prellis’ work. “Microvasculature is the fundamental architectural unit that supports advanced multicellular life and it therefore represents a crucial target for bottom-up human tissue engineering and regenerative medicine.”

This video shows real-time printing of a cell encapsulation device that is useful for producing small human cells containing organoids. The structure is designed to be permeable and the size is 200 microns in diameter and can contain up to 2000 cells.

This video shows real-time printing of a human-sized capillary using laser-based holographic 3D printing from Prellis Biologics. The size of this capillary is 10 microns in diameter and 250 microns in length. This video shows a complete capillary bed being printed in less than 6 seconds.

 

 

Posted in 3D Printing Technology

 

 

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