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

Handheld 3D printers help to treat musculoskeletal injuries

Handheld 3D printers help to treat musculoskeletal injuries

Biomedical engineers developed a handheld 3D bioprinter that could revolutionize the way musculoskeletal surgical procedures are performed.

3D printed implants seed multiple layers of tissue

3D printed implants seed multiple layers of tissue

Researchers are 3D printing "groovy" tissue-engineering scaffolds with living cells to help heal injuries.

Novel bioprinter shows potential to speed tissue engineering

Novel bioprinter shows potential to speed tissue engineering

Researchers have found a way to speed up tissue engineering for potential organ regeneration or replacement using a novel bioprinter.

Bioprinting one scaffold to guide regeneration of multiple tissues

Bioprinting one scaffold to guide regeneration of multiple tissues

A new 3D printing platform is able to fabricate multi-component scaffolds that “steal from nature” to engineer tissues organized like native tissues.

A swifter way towards 3D printed organs

A swifter way towards 3D printed organs

A new technique called SWIFT (sacrificial writing into functional tissue) allows 3D printing of large, vascularized human organ building blocks.

Bioprinting complex living tissue in seconds

Bioprinting complex living tissue in seconds

Researchers have developed an extremely fast optical method for sculpting complex shapes in stem-cell-laden hydrogels and then vascularizing the resulting tissue.

Silicone-based 3D lattice can improve drug testing

Silicone-based 3D lattice can improve drug testing

Scientists have found the perfect geometry: on a newly developed 3D silicone lattice, human stem cells will grow and behave in the same way as they do inside the human body.

3D printing skin, bones on way to Mars

3D printing skin, bones on way to Mars

An ESA project has produced its first bioprinted skin and bone samples. The 3D printing human tissue could help keep astronauts healthy all the way to Mars.

A revolution in regenerative medicine

A revolution in regenerative medicine

3D printing: Researchers from across disciplines are developing new approaches and new materials for creating soft tissues.

Popular articles