Doctors at a Boston hospital have created the very first synthetic blood vessels. The researchers replicated human vessels through 3D bio printing using biomaterials. The team approached the issue in layers and were able to engineer the vessels conducive to blood vessel cells. This approach allows for long-lasting synthetic vessels.
“Creating artificial blood vessels remains a unique challenge in tissue engineering," said biomedical engineer and project lead, Dr. Ali Khademhosseini. "We’ve attempted to address this challenge by offering a unique strategy for vascularization of hydrogel constructs that combine advances in 3D bio-printing technology and biomaterials.”
The process involved 3D printing agarose fiber templates, which are later removed. The mold is covered in a liquid, but durable, substance called hydrogel, which coats the channels. This process ensures the templates are strong enough to be removed and make channels. Khademhossieni explains that this “prevents having to dissolve these template layers, which may not be so good for the cells that are entrapped in the surrounding gel.”
"In the future, 3D printing technology may be used to develop transplantable tissues customized to each patient's needs, or be used outside the body to develop drugs that are safe and effective," he adds.
Khademhosseini and his team published their findings in the journal Lab on a Chip.