Light-driven technologies to steer the functionality of volumetric engineered tissues and organoids

Jun 29, 2022, 11:00 AM
Room: S3 B

Room: S3 B


Levato, Riccardo (Utrecht University)


Organ- and tissue-level biological functions are intimately linked to microscale cell-cell interactions and to the overarching tissue architecture. Advances in biofabrication technologies offer unprecedented opportunities to capture salient features of tissue composition and thus guide the maturation of engineered constructs into mimicking functionalities of native organs. Light-based bioprinting techniques enable superior resolution and ability to generate free-form architectures, compared to conventional extrusion technologies. These rely on the spatio-selective polymerization of a bioresin, a photo-responsive hydrogel laden with cells, in response to user-defined, cell-friendly 2D or 3D light fields. In this lecture, the design of new photoresponsive biomaterials for light based 3D printing will be discusses, together with their application for lithographic, layerwise bioprinting and the most recent advances in the development of layerless volumetric bioprinting techniques inspired by optical tomography, capable of processing cm-scale objects in less than 20 seconds. In particular, applications in musculoskeletal as well as soft (liver) tissue engineering are discussed. Notably, as in light-based printing cells are processed in absence of extrusion nozzles, in a contactless fashion, mechanically fragile organoids can be easily introduced as building blocks in the printing process, and shaped into complex and customized, cm-scale 3D tissue analogues. In this way, the ability of organoids to self-assemble enables to generate multi-scale constructs, in which the engineering of the cellular microenvironment is delegated to the (stem) cells that compose the organoid, leveraging their innate capacity for tissue morphogenesis, while at the same taking advantage from the environmental cues influenced by the macroscale milieu provided by the printed hydrogel. With such nozzle and shear stress-free, highly rapid cell processing approach a variety of hydrogel-based constructs can be assembled into hydrogel-based actuators for potential applications in soft robotics, or as platforms to enhance cell viability and maturation post-printing, including the shaping of large networks of hepatic epithelial organoids into defined 3D perfusable structures which exhibit biosynthetic and metabolic functions. This technology opens up new possibilities for regenerative medicine and personalized drug testing, and for the production of new in vitro models for fundamental biological research.


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