One of the largest hurdles of in vitro cell culture has been to mimic conditions that closely resemble in vivo outcomes, essentially imitating nature. Significant strides have been made to this end in the past decades with progress accelerating in more recent years.
One approach that has widely-contributed to progress in tissue engineering and regenerative medicine has been to imitate the human body as accurately as possible. Tissues and organs consist of a milieu of extracellular matrices with varying quantities and placements.
With the advances in 3D bioprinting, scientists now have another tool to move closer to engineering tissues and organs that are more in vivo-like. Employing 3D bioprinting, a variety of ECMs can be precisely deposited in more native formats. 3D bioprinters now have multiple dispensing heads that can simultaneously lay down the ECM with cells in tissue and organ-like configurations. Furthermore, discoveries have recently been made creating native bioinks that are compatible with 3D bioprinters. A combination of such advances and discoveries with 3D bioprinters and native ECM bioinks likely propel future advancements in tissue and organ fabrication.
Further, native collagen bioinks consisting of Type I collagen can also be blended with other ECM’s to formulate more in vivo-like bioinks. Some of these ECMs include Type I, II, III, IV, V collagens, hyaluronic acid, elastin (tropoelastin), fibronectin and vitronectin. ECMs play a major role in achieving the proper cell behavior, cell adhesion signals and binding sites.
In addition to formulating a more optimal ECM environment, cells can be pre-mixed with the bioinks and bioprinted. The cells, in many cases, have been shown to remodel the tissue. Cells secrete and deposit their own intrinsic ECMs, growth factors, cytokines and other biologically relevant components.
The combination of these advanced 3D bioprinters, and cell-laden yet native-to-the-body bioinks, greatly enhance the capabilities and tools available to tissue engineers inerested in imitating nature.
Allevi is excited to begin offering a broad line of native extracellular matrix proteins from Advanced BioMatrix (ABM) to serve as additives to many of Allevi’s BioInks. Bowman Bagley, Director of Business Development at ABM, comments: “The bar is being raised each day as new publications come out. Researchers are beginning to reject non-native materials as new native, yet printable, bioinks have emerged and are commercially available. The quest to bioprint tissues and organs begins with bioinks composed of native proteins that best replicate a natural, in vivo-like cellular environment. Our goal is to provide all of the proteins that help best replicate the human body when bioprinting. To print native tissues, we need native bioinks.”
As we continue trying to control tissue design by imitating nature, Allevi continues to provide the tools that will allow scientists to most accurately represent human architecture.