Inspired by electronics manufacturing technologies like the pick and place, a new machine for building large tissues from living components of three-dimensional micro-tissues could lead to the ability to produce whole organs. From ScienceDaily:
In this case, the parts are not resistors and capacitors, but 3-D microtissues containing thousands to millions of living cells that need a constant stream of fluid to bring them nutrients and to remove waste. The new device is called ‘BioP3’ for pick, place, and perfuse. A team of researchers led by Jeffrey Morgan, a Brown University bioengineer, and Dr. Andrew Blakely, a surgery fellow at Rhode Island Hospital and the Warren Alpert Medical School, introduces BioP3 in a new paper in the journal Tissue Engineering Part C.
Because it allows assembly of larger structures from small living microtissue components, Morgan said, future versions of BioP3 may finally make possible the manufacture of whole organs such as livers, pancreases, or kidneys.
“For us it’s exciting because it’s a new approach to building tissues, potentially organs, layer by layer with large, complex living parts,” said Morgan, professor of molecular pharmacology, physiology and bBiotechnology. “In contrast to 3-D bioprinting that prints one small drop at a time, our approach is much faster because it uses pre-assembled living building parts with functional shapes and a thousand times more cells per part.”
Morgan’s research has long focused on making individual microtissues in various shapes such as spheres, long rods, donut rings and honeycomb slabs. He uses a novel micromolding technique to direct the cells to self-assemble and form these complex shapes. He is a founder of the Providence startup company MicroTissues Inc., which sells such culture-making technology.
Now, the new paper shows, there is a device to build even bigger tissues by combining those living components.