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Vacularized Scaffolds via Novel 3D Printing Technology for Tissue Engineering and Tumour Modeling Applications
Despite decades of research, the promise of engineering human tissues from stem cells has yet to be fully realized. One of the major limitations of current approaches has been that once engineered tissues reach a certain size, oxygen and nutrients can no longer penetrate the tissue, due to a lack of vasculature, thereby preventing further growth. Therefore, the development of vascularised tissue has been one of the major challenges in the tissue engineering field and the lack of human vascularised tissue and tumor models has been an important limitation for the pharmaceutical industry. While numerous approaches have been developed to address this challenge, technological hurdles have limited the size and resolution of the micro-vasculature which has been engineered thus far: today there is a complete lack of appropriate micro-vascularized tissue engineering scaffolds, thereby greatly limiting the relevance of 3D human models for drug screening and regenerative medicine. We have now successfully developed a novel technology to address this challenge by efficiently and precisely 3D printing micro-vasculature with biocompatible materials. This micro-vasculature network can be custom-designed for specific applications, and can rapidly and reproducibly be printed with either bioinert or biofunctionalized materials, thereby opening up the possibility for unprecendented control over tissue growth. This technology is particularly relevant for vascularising organoids, human stem cell-derived tissue-like constructs which are increasingly used as human test bed models for drug screening applications. This technology holds equally great promise for more realistically modelling solid cancer tumours for oncology applications. In this project, we propose to test this promising new technology in three key biological applications: vascularising a brain, liver and solid tumour organoid model. The successful demonstration of this innovative technology in these important biological contexts would present us with a highly marketable product targeted at pharmaceutical companies conducting toxicity and efficacy studies in a model of human tissue with unprecedented fidelity.
Date:1 Oct 2017 → 30 Sep 2019