Engineered tissues appear more and more as an alternative to animal research, and, on the longer-term perspective, as a solution to the chronical lack of organ donors. Animal trials are expensive, time-consuming and increasingly controversial. Indeed, the ethical acceptance of such practices has been questioned over the last few years. In this context, bioprinting has become one of the most promising emerging fabrication technologies for tissue engineering of in vitro living tissue models. It relies on additive manufacturing processes to deposit cells and bioinks into complex 3D constructs that have the ability to mature into functional tissues. In the short-term, applications lie in the use of bioprinted 3D human tissue models in pharmaceutical R&D for preclinical drug testing and drug discovery. In the long-term, bioprinting will allow for manufacturing tissue patches and entire organs for human transplantations.

Most 3D tissues with dimensions over the millimeter need vascularization in order to function properly thanks to oxygen and nutrients supply. This limits the thickness of currently printed tissues to only a fraction of a millimeter. The building of a vascular network is one of the most challenging problems to overcome for the manufacturing of physiologically relevant tissue. A second challenge is to develop an economical and feasible technology for high-throughput, reliable and highly reproducible application of the bioprinting approach.

In the project 3D-NVU, we propose to apply industrial drop-on-demand multi-nozzle inkjet technology for the manufacturing of 3D vascular constructs: the printing of a 3D mini-brain-on-a- chip, with an integrated vasculature. The objective of this multidisciplinary project is the engineering of the next generation of vascularized in vitro alternatives with an innovative 3D manufacturing technology.

 

Follow-up project

With the outputs of this HES-SO funded project, a CTI project (now Innosuisse) was initiated with an industrial partner.

The CTI funded project “3D printed bioresorbable polymeric coronary scaffold" (“PriPoS”) is a collaboration with Marie-Noëlle Giraud (Department of Cardiology, University of Fribourg) and the company Acrostak AG (CH).

This project focused on 3D-printed bioresorbable inactive polymeric scaffolds mounted on a novel delivery system for the treatment of coronary artery diseases. For this purpose, a new generation of our screw melt-micro extruder was developed.

The mechanical and bioresorbable properties of two new polymeric scaffolds were optimized and compared with our current 100% poly-caprolactone polymeric one.

The safety and performance of the scaffolds were validated in an animal model.

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