An agile bio-manufacturing platform for production of blood vasculature

Lead Research Organisation: University of Birmingham
Department Name: Dentistry


Nature is the prime example of complex and sophisticated manufacturing. The human body is constructed by cells and support matrices where a variety of biomolecules perform complex functions in development, normal function and regeneration. This delicate balance is disturbed in disease or trauma and confounded by the body's declining regenerative capacity with increasing age. Organ transplantation has saved many lives and millions of pounds to the NHS, however every day 4 people in the UK die while on the waiting list. Those fortunate to receive organ transplants require immunosuppressant drugs, making them prone to infection and increased risk of cancer. There is a dire need for artificially engineered organs and tissue grafts, that engraft successfully on implantation without the need for immunosuppression. Furthermore, cardiovascular disease is the top cause of death globally. This is caused by problems with the heart or the circulatory system. Transformative solutions are required to meet the rising unmet clinical need for organ transplantation and cardiovascular diseases.

The aim of this project is to develop an adventurous manufacturing workflow to recreate the structural and cellular complexity of blood vessels by employing novel manufacturing strategies. The project combines advanced materials, 3D printing and advanced imaging to provide transformative solutions to key healthcare challenges facing our aging society. This project will address the growing demand for functional tissue grafts and organs for transplantation and drug discovery. To date, a major hurdle in engineering artificial tissue has been the inability to reproduce the blood vessel micro- and macro-architecture.

Our novel manufacturing research idea is to develop a complex and sophisticated fluid delivery system, with a 3D printer to recreate blood vessels in the laboratory. Our research will enable the rapid production of blood vessels from small (width of hair) to large (centimetres) sizes, and harness advanced biomaterials, designed to change from solution to gel by mixing in the fluid delivery system, to achieve this goal.


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