When 3:30 PM - 5:00 PM Sep 05, 2014
Where 1670 Beyster Building
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A Layer-by-Layer and Scaffold-free Strategy to Build Tissues and Organs


Jeff Morgan
Brown University, Department of Molecular Pharmacology, Physiology and Biotechnology

The grand challenge of the field of tissue engineering is the fabrication of large living structures with high cell density akin to native organs (liver, kidney) and to sustain the viability and functionality of these structures in vitro prior to transplantation. There have been significant successes with relatively thin planar structures (skin, trachea), but these are neither vascularized, nor perfused and so their thickness is limited by diffusion (< 200 microns). Despite twenty years of engineering different types of scaffolds for cell attachment, this problem remains unsolved and even new efforts to form functional organs by seeding cells into decellularized organs have significant limitations. Rather than pursue a monolithic approach where cells are seeded into a scaffold or decellularized tissue, we are pursuing a bottom up, layer-by-layer and scaffold-free strategy to address some of these engineering problems. When cells are seeded into micro-molds of a nonadhesive hydrogel (agarose) they will aggregate and self-assemble a 3D multi-cellular microtissue. The shape of this microtissue and the alignment of the extracellular matrix that it synthesizes are directed by our design of the micro-mold. We’ve self-assembled large honeycomb shaped tissues. When harvested from the micro-molds, these microtissues will fuse with each other to become one tissue. To build with these microtissue parts, we’ve devised a novel device, the Bio-Pick, Place, and Perfuse (Bio-P3) inspired by the pick & place machines used in the high-speed assembly of multi-component electronics. A significant advance over bio-printing, our first generation device, picks up microtissue building parts, transports them to a build area, and places them at the desired location while maintaining perfusion. In this way, piece by piece, a larger tissue construct can be assembled layer-by-layer, while building and perfusing a vascular-like network that maintains the viability needed for microtissue parts to fuse. This talk will review our progress to date and discuss how this approach may be able to address some, but not all of the challenges of organ fabrication. 

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