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U of Alabama at Birmingham printer could make complex and functional human tissue

University of Alabama at Birmingham biomedical researchers have found a way to speed up tissue creation using a novel bioprinter built for $2,000, the university reports.
The goal is to have computer-controlled manufacturing of complex and functional human tissue for potential organ regeneration or replacement, according to the article

A report about the research appears in the journal Micromachines

Building blocks for the tissue are pre-grown spheroids of human induced-pluripotent stem cells that contain 200,000 cells per spheroid, according to the article.

The first commercial bioprinter from Japan builds tissue one spheroid at a time, placing the spheroids on metal pins that can be removed after the growing cells expand and fuse into tissue, the article states. The UAB approach could increase the efficiency of that scaffold-free bioprinting by as much as a hundred-fold. 

The UAB proof-of-concept bioprinter picks up multiple spheroids at the same time and places them simultaneously on a matrix of pins, the article states. The UAB prototype used a 4-by-4 matrix of 16 pins, so 16 spheroids could be placed at once, with a cycle speed of 45 seconds. A video, which does not include the reservoir of spheroids, shows how one cycle works. 

The machine, about the size of a toaster, fits easily in a biosafety hood and its parts can be sterilized by autoclave or ethylene oxide.

“This novel, layer-by-layer scaffold-free bioprinter is efficient and precise in operation, and it can easily be scaled to print large tissues,” said Jianyi “Jay” Zhang, M.D., Ph.D., who led the research and is corresponding author. Zhang is a BMES member. “Having the ability to build larger, more clinically relevant tissues in a shorter length of time using this method would be very beneficial for various fields of medicine and clinical research,” he said in the article.

At UAB, Zhang is chair and professor of the UAB Department of Biomedical Engineering and holder of the T. Michael and Gillian Goodrich Endowed Chair of Engineering Leadership. First author of the paper, “Scaffold-free bioprinter utilizing layer-by-layer printing of cellular spheroids,” is Wesley LaBarge, a UAB Ph.D. candidate in biomedical engineering.

Read the full article HERE