members included Postdoctoral Fellow Dr. Dan Shiwarski; Ph.D. students
Joshua Tashman, T.J. Hinton, Sai Yerneni, and Jacqueline Bliley; and Research
Professor Phil Campbell.
All organs are
built-up on a biological scaffold, known as the extracellular matrix (ECM),
which provides support and holds together all the cells and tissues of the
organ. However, so far, it has not been possible to build this complex
structure using conventional biofabrication techniques.
The new FRESH technology has
allowed the research team to circumvent the existing problems associated with
conventional 3D printing of biological tissues and achieve significantly
superior resolution and precision in 3D printing biological scaffolds using
biomaterials such as collagen.
The uniqueness of
the new FRESH technology is that it allows collagen to be deposited in layers
using a gel that supports the increasing mass of collagen, as it is added
layer-by-layer. Once the printing is complete, the supporting gel can be melted
away by slightly raising the temperature. The temperature is adjusted so that
the printed structure, consisting of collagen, is not damaged and remains
"Collagen is an extremely desirable biomaterial to 3D
print with because it makes up literally every single tissue in your body,"
"What makes it so hard to 3D print,
however, is that it starts out as a fluid - so if you try to print this in the air it just forms a puddle on your build
platform. So we've developed a technique that prevents it from deforming."
What are the Advantages of the FRESH 3D
The main advantage
of the new FRESH 3D bioprinting technology is that it is capable of creating
collagen scaffolds as large as human organs. Another advantage is that other
biomaterials, besides collagen, can be used for constructing the organs. Some
of these biomaterials that can form soft gels - which make them suitable for
bioprinting - include fibrin, hyaluronic acid, and alginate.
Thus, the new FRESH
technique provides a robust, scalable, and adaptable technology platform for
tissue engineering. Importantly, the researchers have expanded the scope and
accessibility of this novel technology by adopting an Open Source Model, so
that literally anyone can build their own 3D printed
"What we've shown is that we can print pieces of the
heart out of cells and collagen into parts that truly function, like a heart
valve or a small beating ventricle,"
says Feinberg."By using MRI data of a human heart, we were
able to accurately reproduce patient-specific anatomical structures and 3D
bioprint collagen and human heart cells."
How will the FRESH 3D Bioprinting Technology
Benefit Heart Patients?
Heart patients will
be highly benefited by the new FRESH 3D bioprinting technology in the near
future. The new technology holds immense promise for constructing a full-sized,
functional, adult human heart. Considering the fact that there are over 4,000
heart patients on the waiting list for a heart transplant in the US alone and
millions more worldwide, a 3D bioprinted, fully functional human heart will be
a godsend for them.
What are the Potential Applications of the
FRESH 3D Bioprinting Technology?
The new FRESH bioprinting technology could have potential
applications in many areas of Regenerative Medicine - from wound repair to
organ bioengineering. The FRESH technology will be an important addition to the
growing field of biofabrication.
"Really what we're
talking about is the convergence of technologies,"
says Feinberg. "Not just what my lab does in bioprinting,
but also from other labs and small companies in the areas of stem cell science,
machine learning, and computer simulation, as well as new 3D bioprinting
hardware and software."
Feinberg concludes: "It
is important to understand that there are many years of research yet to be
done, but there should still be excitement that we're making real progress
towards engineering functional human tissues and organs, and this paper is one
step along that path." Reference :
- 3D Bioprinting of Collagen to Rebuild Components of the Human Heart - (https://science.sciencemag.org/content/365/6452/482)