Dec 5, 2017 | By Tess

Researchers from the Symbiolab at the Institute IRNAS in Slovenia have marked a step forwards in their 3D bioprinting research. Using the Institute IRNAS’ open source Vitaprint bioprinter platform, the team has demonstrated its ability to bioprint “freeform perfusable vessel systems in biocompatible hydrogels.”

The work, which builds on the lab’s previous achievements of creating two dimensional branched perfusable structures and simplified 3D gelatin-based meniscus models, consists of bioprinting a 3D structure based on the vasculature (or the blood vessel structure) of an earlobe.

As the Symbiolab team explains, within the field of tissue engineering, vascularization, or the ability to recreate blood vessel structures, has been a steady challenge. Though we’ve seen bioprinters produce structures made from human cells, in order for any artificially produced organs to be viable for implantation, they will require a complex vascular network.

Throughout the medical field, research is being done to overcome this challenge, and some efforts are coming close. For example, scientists have developed a method for 3D bioprinting vasularized liver tissue to increase accuracy of drug toxicity testing. In Slovenia, researchers from the Symbiolab are working on their own solution to the problem.

As they explain in a blog post: “Vascularization is a major challenge in tissue engineering as it currently sets a very restrictive limit on the thickness of tissues that can be fabricated. New approaches will be necessary to achieve major improvements and the co-development of material and technology will play a vital role in this sense.”

“We’re currently devising new protocols to fabricate vessel systems from other hydrogels to make it more versatile and useful for tissue engineering research. Currently structures are possible using gelatin and alginate,” they add.

The recent work done by the Symbiolab, which has consisted of 3D bioprinting a perfusable vessel system in an ear-shaped biocompatible hydrogel material, has the potential to be used as a “basis for blood vessel fabrication,” researcher Boštjan Vihar told us.

Crucial to this research project is the Vitaprint bioprinting platform, a bioprinter developed by IRNAS which is notable for its open source hardware, protocols, and demo files. (All documentation and files for the Vitaprint system can be downloaded on Github.)

The bioprinter is equipped with a Vitaprint extruder, which is described as a “self-contained syringe extruder” that is not only compatible with the 3D printer’s hardware but can also be installed in various CNC systems. In that same vein, the open source bioprinter was designed to enable hardware modifications and customizations so that it can be adapted for various different bioprinting applications.

As is, the bioprinter boasts a build volume of 200 x 300 x 50 mm, as well as a simple motorized piston drive system and a standard power outlet, making it suitable for use in various environments. The machine also integrates a thermal control feature which allows users to print with anything from polymers to hydrogels, and a direct force translation mechanism that allows for controlled extrusion. According to IRNAS, this feature makes it possible to 3D print highly viscous biomaterials.

So far, the Vitaprint bioprinting system has already been used for a number of different applications, including creating perfusable vessel structures in hydrogels (as seen above), as well as printing shapes and structures from gluten, and producing complex anatomical structures from gelatin-alginate copolymers.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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Godfrey Daniels wrote at 12/14/2017 10:43:10 PM:

Why did they choose a close source CNC controller when they could have used a superior open source application such as Linuxcnc?

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