3D printing Organic Building blocks in a SWIFT way

“Growing” living organs for organ transplants has been a hot topic for quite some time, with no way for it to transfer oxygen being a common problem. 3D printing may provide a solution, researchers from Harvard University’s Wyss Institute have developed a method to create large vascular systems in organ building blocks (OBBs).

Showing off its method, called SWIFT (sacrificial writing into functional tissue), the team created a sample of cardiac tissue that beats synchronously over a 7-day period.

“Our SWIFT biomanufacturing method is highly effective at creating organ-specific tissues at scale from OBBs ranging from aggregates of primary cells to stem-cell-derived organoids,” said Jennifer Lewis, corresponding author at the Wyss Institute. She continues “By integrating recent advances from stem-cell researchers with the bioprinting methods developed by my lab, we believe SWIFT will greatly advance the field of organ engineering around the world.”

The way SWIFT works is a two step process that starts with gathering OBBs into a mold that compresses them into a high cellular density matrix. If these matrices, containing about 200 million cells per milliliter, show a self-healing, viscoplastic behavior it can be used in stage two of SWIFT.

Stage two is using a bioink printer to the sacrificial ink that will be cooked out of the mold, or printing the negative space in the matrices, allowing oxygen and other nutrients to pass through, delivering these vital substances to cells.

“Forming a dense matrix from these OBBs kills two birds with one stone: not only does it achieve a high cellular density akin to that of human organs, but the matrix’s viscosity also enables printing of a pervasive network of perfusable channels within it to mimic the blood vessels that support human organs,” added co-first author Sébastien Uzel, Ph.D., a Research Associate at the Wyss Institute and SEAS.

This technique overcomes a major hurdle and further success in this field could lead to reduced transplant wait times. “This is an entirely new paradigm for tissue fabrication,” said co-first author Mark Skylar-Scott, Ph.D., a Research Associate at the Wyss Institute. Continuing “Rather than trying to 3D print an entire organ’s worth of cells, SWIFT focuses only on printing the vessels necessary to support a living tissue construct that contains large quantities of OBBs, which may ultimately be used therapeutically to repair and replace human organs with lab-grown versions containing patient’s own cells.”

A small Video to show the process.

Essop, Anas, et al. “Harvard Researchers Develop SWIFT Method to 3D Print Organ Building Blocks.” 3D Printing Industry, 9 Sept. 2019, 3dprintingindustry.com/news/harvard-researchers-develop-swift-method-to-3d-print-organ-building-blocks-161358/.