To ensure a constant flow of oxygen and nutrients inside bioprinted tissues, vascular networks must be developed. We’ll be focusing on formulating bioinks that favour the formation of new blood vessels from pre-existing ones, also known as angiogenesis. As the surrounding environment of cells is remodelled to grow blood vessels, cells can spread and vasculature can form, indicating angiogenesis. The biomaterials used in our bioinks are: Collagen, Elastin, Matrigel, Fibrin, Alginate, Chitosan, Agarose, and Hyaluronic acid.
Once we have developed a bioink formulation, it’s time to biofabricate multiple vascularized models and tissues. We're trying various bioprinting techniques to fabricate 3D tissues with more desirable functions. Using the characteristics of the bioinks and the bioprinting parameters, Vitality intends to predict the probability of viable constructs. After bioprinting the tissues, we’re interested in recording the properties, such as tubulogenesis, cellular proliferation and migration, to analyze and compare angiogenesis in printed tissues.
Using an analytical model such as a decision tree classifier, we can analyze angiogenesis in our printed constructs. Thanks to the quantitative data we collected in the previous step, our decision trees can analyze the impact of biomaterials and printing processes on the biological performance of our bioink. As ML models do best, we can then identify patterns in the data to determine bioinks that promote angiogenesis. From our data, the decision tree models will infer, compare, and reach a conclusion, accelerating the R&D process.
Invented in 2003, bioprinting is still in its infancy. Currently, bioprinting can be used to print tissue models to research drugs and pills. But the 3D bioprinting of organs for the human body will be revolutionary. This technology has the potential to make medical care faster, more effective, and more personalized. With 3D bioprinters in the clinical setting, we could bypass the problems associated with organ transplants, such as long donor waiting lists, immunorejection of the new organ, life-threatening medical complications, or the high price tag of an organ.
While a kidney transplant costs about $300,000, a 3D bioprinter can cost as little as $10,000, and costs are expected to drop further as the technology evolves in the coming years.
Here’s what Balaji S. Srinivasan, the former CTO of Coinbase and a previous General Partner at Andreessen Horowitz, had to say about bioprinting: 3D bioprinting is worth monitoring. Replacement organs in the lab?
We would like to thank Prof. Darcy Wagner, Nicholas Karaiskos, Caner Dikyol, Maria Stang, Jaci Bliley, Emma Davoodi, Maxwell Nagarajan, Prof. Chee Kai Chua, Andrew Hudson, Erica Comber, and Ankita Gupta for meeting with us and for providing helpful advice and feedback.