Close-up of a tubular structure made by simultaneous printing and...
Close-up of a tubular structure made by simultaneous printing and self-assembling between graphene oxide and a protein.
Source: University of Nottingham

3D printed biomaterial enables forming of blood vessels

An international team of scientists have discovered a new material that can be 3D printed to create tissue-like vascular structures. In a new study, researchers have developed a way to 3D print graphene oxide with a protein which can organise into tubular structures that replicate some properties of vascular tissue.

“This work offers opportunities in biofabrication by enabling simulatenous top-down 3D bioprinting and bottom-up self-assembly of synthetic and biological components in an orderly manner from the nanoscale. Here, we are biofabricating micro-scale capillary-like fluidic structures that are compatible with cells, exhibit physiologically relevant properties, and have the capacity to withstand flow," said Professor Alvaro Mata at the University of Nottingham and Queen Mary University London.

Self-assembly is the process by which multiple components can organise into larger well-defined structures. Biological systems rely on this process to controllably assemble molecular building-blocks into complex and functional materials exhibiting remarkable properties such as the capacity to grow, replicate, and perform robust functions.

The new biomaterial is made by the self-assembly of a protein with graphene oxide. The mechanism of assembly enables the flexible (disordered) regions of the protein to order and conform to the graphene oxide, generating a strong interaction between them. By controlling the way in which the two components are mixed, it is possible to guide their assembly at multiple size scales in the presence of cells and into complex robust structures.

Photo
Cross-section of a bioprinted tubular structure with endothelial cells (green) on and embedded within the wall.
Source: University of Nottingham

The material can then be used as a 3D printing bioink to print structures with intricate geometries and resolutions down to 10 mm. The research team have demonstrated the capacity to build vascular-like structures in the presence of cells and exhibiting biologically relevant chemical and mechanical properties.

Dr. Yuanhao Wu is the lead researcher on the project, she said: “There is a great interest to develop materials and fabrication processes that emulate those from nature. However, the ability to build robust functional materials and devices through the self-assembly of molecular components has until now been limited. This research introduces a new method to integrate proteins with graphene oxide by self-assembly in a way that can be easily integrated with additive manufacturing to easily fabricate biofluidic devices that allow us replicate key parts of human tissues and organs in the lab.”

Subscribe to our newsletter

Related articles

3D printing promotes tissue engineering

3D printing promotes tissue engineering

Researchers have demonstrated the viability of 3D-printed tissue scaffolds that harmlessly degrade while promoting tissue regeneration following implantation.

3D printing to aid tissue replacement

3D printing to aid tissue replacement

Researchers look to a future someday in which doctors can hit a button to print out a scaffold on their 3D printers and create custom-made replacement skin, cartilage, or other tissue for their patients.

3D printing heart cells from stem cells

3D printing heart cells from stem cells

Scientists have shown that 3D printing can be used to control stem cell differentiation into embryoid bodies that replicate heart cells.

Lab engineers 3D functional bone tissues

Lab engineers 3D functional bone tissues

Researchers have developed a printable bioink that could be used to create anatomical-scale functional tissues.

Organ bioprinting gets a breath of fresh air

Organ bioprinting gets a breath of fresh air

Bioengineers have cleared a major hurdle on the path to 3D printing replacement organs with a breakthrough technique for bioprinting tissues.

3D printing of biological tissue

3D printing of biological tissue

Scientists hope we will soon be using 3D-printed biologically functional tissue to replace irreparably damaged tissue in the body.

3D printer creates scaffold for human heart

3D printer creates scaffold for human heart

Engineers built a 3D printer that produces a delicate network of thin ribbons of hardened isomalt, the type of sugar alcohol used to make throat lozenges.

Insulin-producing implant for diabetics

Insulin-producing implant for diabetics

Bioengineers are using 3D printing and smart biomaterials to create an insulin-producing implant for type 1 diabetes patients.

Reverse 3D printing to make tiny implants

Reverse 3D printing to make tiny implants

Researchers have developed a 3D printing technique that allows them to create incredibly small and complex biomedical implants.

Popular articles

Subscribe to Newsletter