3D bioprinting blood vessels – no monkey business

Scientist Mr. Yujian Kang
Scientist Mr. Yujian Kang

Stem cell biotechnology has experienced a breakthrough with the successful implant of 3D printed blood vessels in monkeys. On December 11th, a press conference was given in Chengdu, China, where Dr Y. James Kang, Chief Scientific Officer/Chief Executive Officer of Revotek and Director of the Regenerative Medicine Research Center of West China Hospital, Sichuan University spoke about 3D bioprinting blood vessels.

The vascular tissue regeneration from 3D bioprinted stem cell graft implanted in monkeys means Dr Kang′s research team achieved new milestone results in the clinical application of stem cell biotechnology. As Dr Kang pointed out during the press conference: “The success of this work is an epochal moment in clinical applications of stem cell technologies – if a diseased organ can be repaired, healthy longevity will come sooner to mankind.”

3D printing blood vessels in detail
The Biosynsphere, or the stem cell bio ink, was prepared from the autologous adipose mesenchymal stem cells (ADSCs) of rhesus monkeys. Following the preparation, the Revotek-T 3D Blood Vessel Bioprinter constructed the biologically active blood vessels, which were used to replace a 2 cm segment of the abdominal aorta in rhesus monkeys. Five days post-surgery, the ADSCs sequentially differentiated into endothelial cells, smooth muscle cells, and other cell types of vascular tissue. Just seven days post-surgery, the merging of 3D bio printed blood vessel with the rhesus monkeys′ own abdominal aorta was initiated, and the complete merging was achieved in just one-month time.

The researchers concluded after follow up monitoring and observation over months that the 3D bioprinted blood vessels behaved exactly the same as the monkeys′ original abdominal aorta. This accounts for both for the structure, and the function. Moreover – except for anticoagulant treatments in the first five post-surgery days – the monkeys did not need any treatment during the entire period of the blood vessel regeneration.

With the 3D bioprinted blood vessel a long-term goal has been accomplished. Endothelialisation of artificial vasculature has been a subject undergoing intense study by scientific researchers for over fifty years. For nearly 1.8 billion people worldwide who are suffering from cardiovascular disease, this achievement can be life changing. This achievement of stem cell biotechnology using 3D printing is opening a new era of tissue & organ regeneration in clinical applications.

Learn more about 3D bioprinting at the 3D Bioprinting Conference organised by Jakajima on January 31st 2017 in MECC, Maastricht (The Netherlands). And have a look at the numerous fascinating new developments in the field of 3D bio printing, perhaps the most exciting field of development in medical 3D printing.