Scientists 3D print tubular 3D renal architecture

Toward the ultimate goal of engineering human tissues and organs that can mimic native function for use in drug screening, disease modeling, and regenerative medicine, a team led by Jennifer A. Lewis, the Hansjörg Wyss Professor of Biologically Inspired Engineering at the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS), and Core Faculty member of Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering, has recently made yet another foundational advance using three-dimensional (3D) bioprinting.

This work builds upon their demonstrated ability to bioprint tissue constructs composed of multiple types of living cells patterned alongside a vascular network in an extracellular matrix. Now, in close collaboration with Roche scientist Annie Moisan, they have leveraged their bioprinting and materials expertise to construct a functional 3D renal architecture containing living human epithelial cells, which line the surface of tubules in the kidney.

“The current work further expands our bioprinting platform to create functional human tissue architectures with both technological and clinical relevance,” said Lewis. The 3D renal architecture created by Lewis’ team mimics a proximal tubule, a serpentine hollow tube that is an essential part of each nephron. Therefore, the bioprinted 3D renal architecture recapitulates a very small – yet critical – subunit of a whole kidney. Lewis’ team achieved this advance by adapting their earlier approach for bioprinting living cells to form thick tissues. As a fabrication platform, the approach is flexible, scalable, and adaptable, meaning that in addition to working towards larger, scaled-up kidney constructs.