Cardiovascular disease is one of the most serious diseases threatening human beings in the world, and its mechanism of action is complex. The current research based on animal experiments and plane cell experiments is far from the human environment. If a vascular model can be constructed in vitro that can simulate the vascular environment in vivo, chemical stimulation and mechanical stimulation on this model will provide an efficient tool for the study of cardiovascular disease mechanism.

The construction of vascular structures in vitro based on biological printing has always been a research focus in the field of tissue engineering. Common methods mainly include direct printing of tubular structures and construction of flow channel networks in gel structures. Although the vascular models produced by these methods can simulate the function of real blood vessels to a certain extent, they can’t meet the requirements of chemical loading and mechanical loading at the same time, so they cannot be used to build a platform for simulating vascular environment in vitro, and are therefore difficult to study the mechanism of vascular diseases.

Recently, Ali Khademhosseini, a professor of bioengineering specializing in tissue engineering and bioprinting at the University of California, Los Angeles, and his team developed a new and innovative technology for bioprinting to simulate the tubular structure of complex vascular networks and pipelines. This groundbreaking study was recently published in the journal Advanced Materials and can be used for tissue bioprinting in implants or drug testing.

The project is supported by the U.S. National Institutes of Health and is being carried out in cooperation with researchers from Harvard University and Brigham Women’s Hospital. The next step is the biological printing work before Khademhosseini, who developed a customized multi-material biological printer for the production of complex artificial tissues.

Although there are many efforts in the biomedical field to integrate blood vessels into bioprinted tissues, few people have successfully matched the complexity and variability of natural blood vessel networks. It is reported that the latest method proposed by the joint research team is closer than ever to imitating a complex vascular network.



A guide to 3D Printed Food – revolution in the kitchen?

We all remember the Replicator, the Star Trek food manufacturer, able to turn any molecule into edible food and whole dishes. 3D food printing is able to make dishes from different pastes and materials, so it seems we are getting closer to the science-fiction concept. However, this time we are not in a sci-fi movie! Just look at the innovations already offered by different manufacturers: 3D Systems’ ChefJet, Nautral Machines’ Foodini, BeeHex’s Chef3D, etc. These are all machines that can make chocolate, pasta, sugar and even more dishes: the possibilities are almost unlimited.

An homage to the Versailles palace, printed in sugar.

The first results of 3D food printing, however, were not spectacular. The printed objects were made from a sugar paste and were often not desirable for consumption. But the development of technology, especially FDM, has helped perfect the process so that you can now make chocolate, sweets, or even real meals. One of the main advantages is undoubtedly the freedom of design, which is already widely used in other sectors. Indeed, 3D printers are able to create very complex shapes that are difficult to achieve with traditional methods. This also applies to 3D food printing. Originally, most of the machines used were modified FDM printers. Today we already have 3D food printers specialising in the production of delicious and refined dishes. But what is the future of 3D food printing? Can it revolutionise the way we cook and eat?

The beginning of 3D food printing in space travel

In 2006, NASA began researching 3D printed food, some have called this project the origin of 3D food printing. In 2013, NASA developed another project, the NASA Advanced Food Program, with a simple mission: how to best feed a team of astronauts for longer missions? In cooperation with BeeHex they developed the Chef3D, which was able to 3D print a pizza. The pizza only had to be pushed into the oven.


Blood vessels are the lifeline of any organ.

The dense web of channels, spread across tissues like a spider web, allow oxygen and nutrients to reach the deepest cores of our hearts, brains, and lungs. Without a viable blood supply, tissues rot from the inside. For any attempt at 3D printing viable organs, scientists have to tackle the problem of embedding millions of delicate blood vessels throughout their creation.

It’s a hideously hard problem. Although blood vessels generally resemble tree-like branches, their distribution, quantity, size, and specific structure vastly differs between people. So far, the easiest approach is to wash out cells from donated organs and repopulate the structure with recipient cells—a method that lowers immunorejection after transplant. Unfortunately, this approach still requires donor organs, and with 20 people in the US dying every day waiting for an organ transplant, it’s not a great solution.

This week, a team from Harvard University took a stab at the impossible. Rather than printing an entire organ, they took a Lego-block-like approach, making organ building blocks (OBBs) with remarkably high density of patient cells, and assembled the blocks into a “living” environment. From there, they injected a “sacrificial ink” into the proto-tissue. Similar to pottery clay, the “ink” hardens upon curing—leaving a dense, interconnected 3D network of channels for blood to run through.

As a proof of concept, the team printed heart tissue using the strategy. Once the block fused, the lab-made chunk of heart could beat in synchrony and remained healthy for at least a week.