Bio-ink used to print 'living' blood vessels

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory researchers have 3D printed living blood vessels using a "bio-ink" — that is, a mash of materials that the human body finds agreeable. Using this ink, principal investigator Monica Moya and team have printed blood vessels that lead to further growth of capillaries. Said Moya, "This technology can take biology from the traditional petri dish to a 3D physiologically relevant tissue patch with functional vasculature."

The technology to achieve this is called "3D bioprinting," and it uses an initial process to create blood vessels. As shown in the video below, the bio-ink lays a foundation and tubes are printed from cells within it, allowing blood to pass through. Over time, capillaries will form between the vessels, delivering nutrients to cells.

According to a statement from the laboratory, the researchers can use this technology to better replicate human physiology beyond the human body. In the future, this technology will allow higher quality representations of tissue systems; in addition, the team will soon have access to a new printer with better precision that can replicate larger and higher resolution structures.

Says Moya:

If you take this approach of co-engineering with nature you allow biology to help create the finer resolution of the printed tissue. We're leveraging the body's ability for self-directed growth, and you end up with something that is more true to physiology. We can put the cells in an environment where they know, 'I need to build blood vessels.' With this technology we guide and orchestrate the biology.

SOURCE: Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory