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Cell-Infused 3D Printed Patches for the Treatment of Ischemia

3Ders caught wind of a brand-new type of cell-infused 3D printed patch designed to be used during the treatment of ischemia.  These patches were developed at Boston University’s Biological Design Center.  The research team at Boston University published their results in the journal Nature Biomedical Engineering.

Ischemia “is a term [describing a condition wherein] heart muscles [do not receive] enough oxygen, something that is often caused by narrowing or blockage of the arteries.  For most people, it’s a temporary thing, but its consequences can sometimes be severe: ischemia occasionally leads to heart attack, stroke, gangrene, and other serious conditions.”

Enter the team at Boston University’s Biological Design Center, who “have developed a technique for 3D printing cell-infused patches that can be used to grow healthy blood vessels.”  The Director of the Biological Design Center, Professor Christopher Chen (BME, MSE), explains how these “3D printed patches foster the growth of new vessels while avoiding some of the problems of other approaches:”

“Therapeutic angiogenesis, when growth factors are injected to encourage new vessels to grow, is a promising experimental method to treat ischemia.  But, in practice, the new branches that sprout form a disorganized and tortuous network that looks like sort of a hairball and doesn’t allow blood to flow efficiently through it.  We wanted to see if we could solve this problem by organizing them.”

Therefore, “the research team designed two 3D printable patches, one where the cells were pre-organized into a specific architecture, and another where the cells were simply injected without any organizational structure.  Testing showed the patches with pre-organized structures performed better than their ‘hairball’ counterparts [when it came to] reducing the prevalence of ischemia.”

In order to 3D print blood vessels on such a small scale, the team at Boston University recruited the help of Innolign, “a Boston biomedical technology company that Chen helped establish.”  This allowed the team to 3D print “details as fine as 100 microns.”

As Chen concludes: “the pre-organized architecture of the patch helped to guide the formation of new blood vessels that seemed to deliver sufficient blood to the downstream tissue.  While it wasn’t a full recovery, we observed functional recovery of function in the ischemic tissue.”

Image and Quotes Courtesy of 3Ders

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