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ADDITIVE MANUFACTURING


Ibrahim Tarik Ozbolat is working on the vascularization


hurdle too, in addition to work on tissue models for the pancreas, brain, bone, cartilage, bone and skin together, and brain tumors at Penn State. He’s said previously that the biggest challenge is making capillaries, whose internal diameter is of hair-like thinness. “We can make capillaries within hydrogel,” Ozbolat said.


“The major problem is still making capillaries and integrat- ing them with larger blood vessels. Also, maintaining their shape and structure.” Ozbolat’s team includes two approaches to getting capillaries to grow: with a scaffold and without. “With the scaffold, we seed the cells and the cells grow within the material, while the scaffold degrades. In the scaffold-free approach, we confine the cells and let the cells deposit some proteins. Making capillaries in a scaffold-free ap- proach is a tough problem right now.” In his lab’s work with 3D-printed pancreatic islets—the


clusters of up to hundreds of cells in the pancreas that secrete insulin and other hormones—the islets sprouted capillaries into the supporting scaffold, Ozbolat explained. “When you put the islets together the capillaries anas- tomose,” or connect, he said.


Cell development examined In addition to vascularization, another hurdle to scale is related to cell development and tissue formation, said


Scott Collins, chief technology officer of TeVido BioDe- vices, a bioprinting firm focused on building custom grafts for breast cancer reconstruction. The firm’s first project is to improve nipple reconstruction, in part because plastic surgery results on this part of the reconstructed breast tend to fade and flatten after a couple of years. “Fundamentally, we don’t fully understand how cells


work in the 3D space,” he said. “The bioprinters are go- ing to help us assess that and understand how cells work together and how we can lead them down the pathway to the tissue we’re trying to form.”


Translation a formidable obstacle On a more basic, yet global, level, Collins said there’s


work yet to be done on developing an understanding between those working from a biological perspective and those who design, engineer and make the bioprinters the researchers are using. “Make sure you understand the ca- pabilities and abilities of the tool you’re using and applying it from a tissue biology perspective,” he said. Conversely, he said, people working on the mechanics of


the printer must understand how much it affects and interacts with biology. David Wallace, vice president of MicroFab Technologies Inc., is one of those “people working on the mechanics of the printer.” His firm worked with Wake Forest on a bioprinter and, although he’s an aeronautics engineer, Wallace has


TeVido BioDevices CTO Scott Collins points to cells his lab is culturing for experiments.


60


Summer 2016


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