Ali Khademhosseini, PhD, MSc, Associate Bioengineer at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, talks about the progress in fabricating blood vessels using a three-dimensional (3D) bioprinting technique. While engineers have made strides in making complex artificial tissues such as those of the heart, liver and lungs, he explains that creating artificial blood vessels remains a critical challenge in tissue engineering. In addition to blood vessels, Dr. Khademhosseini and his team are also investigating 3D printing of capillaries.
The researchers first used a 3D bioprinter to make an agarose (naturally derived sugar-based molecule) fiber template to serve as the mold for the blood vessels. They then covered the mold with a gelatin-like substance called hydrogel, forming a cast over the mold which was then reinforced via photocrosslinks.
The first transplantable structures will likely be parts of organs, such as a replacement for heart muscle damaged by myocardial infarction. Dr. Khademhosseini envisions that the same technology will lead to the replacement of bone tissue. He also notes that in the future, 3D printing technology may be used to develop transplantable tissues customized to each patient's needs or be used outside the body to develop drugs that are safe and effective.
Learn more about creating artificial blood vessels using three-dimensional (3D) bioprinting techniques.
Read the 3D Technology: Building a Better Blood Vessel video transcript.