Researchers at the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology have developed an innovative technology to grow tissue for transplantation by printing it in a bath of microgel as a carrier material. The study, published in Advanced Sciencewas led by Professor Shulamit Levenberg and her PhD student Majd Machour from the Faculty of Biomedical Engineering, together with Professor Havazelet Bianco-Peled and PhD student Noy Hen from the Wolfson Faculty of Chemical Engineering and Norman Seiden’s multidisciplinary graduate program in nanosciences and nanotechnology.
Tissue printing is an innovative approach to producing tissue for transplantation. Also known as bioprinting, this technique involves embedding living cells in biological ink and printing them layer by layer. The printed fabric is then grown for days or weeks until it is ready for printing.
According to Prof. Levenberg, “Many research groups around the world are working to improve tissue printing, but most focus on the printing phase and the end product – the printed tissue. No less important, however, is the growth phase of the tissue – i.e. the time between printing and transplantation into the target organ. This is a complex period in which the printed cells divide, migrate and secrete their extracellular matrix and attach to each other to form the tissue. One of the problems is that in this complex process, the fabric tends to buckle and shrink uncontrollably.”
Technion researchers therefore focused on preventing the uneven shrinkage of the printed fabric in the weeks following printing. The solution was found by changing the medium in which the tissue is printed and grown. The new concept, Print-and-Grow, is based on an original medium developed by the researchers – an innovative microgel used as a carrier material in the process, CarGrow, which is a substance composed and is mainly of carrageenan (carrageenan-K). made from red algae. In fact, the new support bath preserves the size of the tissue after printing, preventing it from shrinking and losing its shape. This method enables reliable and controlled production of functional tissue in the desired size and shape. Since this material is transparent, the scientists can use imaging to follow the development of the tissue.
Technion researchers hope the new method will lead to the development of new technologies for bioprinting. The research was supported by an ERC (European Research Council) grant from the European Union.
About a year ago, Prof. Levenberg published another breakthrough in the field of bioprinting in Advanced Materials. In this study, she was able to create a printed tissue flap based on collagen and living cells that contains large blood vessels and small blood vessels that feed the tissue and allow connection to the artery after transplantation. This allowed immediate blood flow to the manipulated tissue immediately after transplantation, speeding up and improving the integration of the tissue into the body.
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