3D bioprinting tools for engineering complex neural tissues from stem cells
University of Victoria / Department of Mechanical Engineering
June 6, 2019
Associate Professor and Chair in Biomedical Engineering, PhD
3D bioprinting can create living human tissues on demand based on specifications contained in a digital file. Such highly customized, physiologically-relevant 3D human tissue models can screen potential drug candidates as an alternative to expensive pre-clinical animal testing. The Willerth lab has developed a novel fibrin-based bioink for bioprinting neural tissues derived from human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs), which can become any cell type found in the body. Our team uses Aspect Biosystem’s novel RX1 bioprinter featuring Lab-On-a-Printer™ (LOP) technology as it enables us to fabricate complex structures found in healthy neural tissues. We were the first group to use this cutting edge bioprinter to generate tissues from pluripotent stem cells. The microfluidic LOP™ printhead cartridges generate cell-containing hydrogel fibers of defined diameters that are precisely deposited into defined 3D structures using a sheath fluid that triggers hydrogel cross-linking of the bioink. The sheath fluid also insulates cells within the fiber from shear stress, protecting fragile primary cells from shear-induced cell death. This process allows us to maintain high levels viability (>90% post printing) not previously seen in the literature. Here I will discuss the latest work from our group detailing the composition of our 3D bioprinted tissues and exciting avenues for future work.