Features | Partner Sites | Information | LinkXpress
Sign In
GLOBETECH PUBLISHING
GLOBETECH PUBLISHING
PZ HTL SA

Soft-3D Printer Produces Synthetic Tissue-Like Material

By BiotechDaily International staff writers
Posted on 17 Apr 2013
Image: Each droplet is an aqueous compartment; in this study, about 50 microns in diameter (Photo courtesy of Oxford University/G. Villar).
Image: Each droplet is an aqueous compartment; in this study, about 50 microns in diameter (Photo courtesy of Oxford University/G. Villar).
Image: The droplet network printer: two droplet generators, each with a glass capillary nozzle, next to an oil well mounted on a motorized micromanipulator (Photo courtesy of Oxford University/G. Villar).
Image: The droplet network printer: two droplet generators, each with a glass capillary nozzle, next to an oil well mounted on a motorized micromanipulator (Photo courtesy of Oxford University/G. Villar).
Image: Hollow “ball” formed upon programmed folding of a flat structure that resembles petals of a flower. The folding itself resembles muscle movement (Photo courtesy of Oxford University/G. Villar).
Image: Hollow “ball” formed upon programmed folding of a flat structure that resembles petals of a flower. The folding itself resembles muscle movement (Photo courtesy of Oxford University/G. Villar).
Scientists have succeeded to custom build a unique, programmable soft-3D printer able to create materials that mimic several properties of living tissue.

Current synthetic mimics of cells, such as liposomes, are typically incapable of cooperation and therefore cannot readily display collective tissue-like behavior. The new printer creates aqueous “droplet networks” that could become the building blocks of a new form of technology that potentially could replace or interface with damaged human tissues. Because droplet networks are entirely synthetic, have no genome, and do not replicate, they avoid some of the problems associated with other approaches to creating artificial tissues – such as those that use stem cells. The new technology has the potential to provide new tissue engineering substrates, to be developed into functional mimics of various living tissues, as well as to improve targeted drug delivery methods.

“Conventional 3D printers aren't up to the job of creating these droplet networks, so we custom built one in our [lab],” said Hagan Bayley, professor of chemistry at Oxford University (Oxford, UK), who led the research. “At the moment we've created networks of up to 35,000 droplets, but the size of network we can make is really only limited by time and money. For our experiments we used two different types of droplet, but there's no reason why you couldn't use 50 or more different kinds.” The networks in the present study remained stable for weeks.


The soft-3D printer and the research of its initial application have been described in a study published in the journal Science, on April 5, 2013. The printer was built by lead author Gabriel Villar, a PhD student in Prof. Bayley’s group. The new type of printed material consists of thousands of picoliter water droplets that become connected by single lipid bilayer films to form a cohesive material with cooperating compartments. Each droplet compartment is about 50 micrometers in diameter; although this is about five times larger than mammalian cells, the researchers believe it can be reduced. The 3D structures can be built with heterologous droplets in software-defined arrangements and can be designed to perform certain functions of cooperating cells. For example, the droplet networks can be functionalized with membrane proteins to allow rapid electrical communication along a specific path.

The droplet networks can also be programmed by osmolarity gradients to fold into otherwise unattainable, designed structures. They can be designed to fold themselves into different shapes after printing—for example, a flat shape that resembles the petals of a flower is “programmed” to fold itself into a hollow “ball,” which cannot be obtained by direct printing. This folding (see videos), which resembles muscle movement, is powered by osmolarity differences that generate water transfer between droplets.

“We aren't trying to make materials that faithfully resemble tissues but rather structures that can carry out the functions of tissues. We’ve shown that it is possible to create networks of tens of thousands connected droplets. The droplets can be printed with protein pores to form pathways through the network that mimic nerves and are able to transmit electrical signals from one side of a network to the other,” said Prof. Bayley. Mr. Villar added, “We have created a scalable way of producing a new type of soft material. The printed structures could in principle employ much of the biological machinery that enables the sophisticated behavior of living cells and tissues.”

Related Links:
Oxford University




Channels

Genomics/Proteomics

view channel
Image: The TheraCyte cell encapsulation device (Photo courtesy of TheraCyte, Inc.).

Encapsulated Human-Insulin-Producing Progenitor Cells Cure Diabetes in Mouse Model

A breakthrough system that allows subcutaneous implantation of encapsulated immature pancreatic cells (beta progenitor cells) was shown to produce enough insulin to correct the symptoms of diabetes in a mouse model.... Read more

Drug Discovery

view channel
Image: Chitosan is derived from the shells of shrimp and other sea crustaceans, including Alaskan pink shrimp, pictured here (Photo courtesy of NOAA - [US] National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration).

Chitosan Treatment Clears the Way for Antibiotics to Eliminate Recurrent Urinary Tract Infections

Recurrent urinary tract infection was successfully resolved in a mouse model by treatment with the exfoliant chitosan followed by a round of antibiotics. Bacterial urinary tract infection (UTI), most... Read more

Biochemistry

view channel

Mitochondrial Cause of Aging Can Be Reversed

Researchers have found a cause of aging in lab animals that can be reversed, possibly providing an avenue for new treatments for age-related diseases including type 2 diabetes, cancer, muscle wasting, and inflammatory diseases. The researchers plan to begin human trials late 2014. The study, which was published December... Read more

Therapeutics

view channel

Cytokine Identified That Causes Mucositis in Cancer Therapy Patients

The action of the cytokine interleukin 1-beta (IL-1beta) has been found to underlie the onset of mucositis, a common, severe side effect of chemotherapy and irradiation of cancer patients. Mucositis occurs as a result of cell death in reaction to chemo- or radiotherapy. The mucosal lining of the mouth becomes thin, may... Read more

Business

view channel

Analytical Sciences Trade Fair Declared a Rousing Success

Organizers of this year's 24th "analytica" biosciences trade fair have reported significant increases in both the number of visitors and exhibitors compared to the 2012 event. The analytica trade fair for laboratory technology, analysis, and biotechnology has been held at the Munich (Germany) Trade Fair Center every... Read more
 
Copyright © 2000-2014 Globetech Media. All rights reserved.