Researchers from Harvard’s Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering and John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences have developed a new SWIFT (sacrificial writing into functional tissue) technique that they say is a significant improvement in the use of 3D printing for the repair and replacement of human organs, by 3D printing vascular channels into living matrices composed of stem-cell-derived organ building blocks. The researchers say the process can be used to produce viable, organ-specific tissues with high cell density and function. The SWIFT process commences with forming hundreds of thousands of stem-cell-derived aggregates into a dense, living matrix of organ building blocks that contains around 200 million cells per ml. Then a vascular network through which oxygen and other nutrients can be delivered to the cells is embedded within the matrix by writing and removing a sacrificial ink.
A Core Faculty Member at the Wyss Institute, Jennifer Lewis, said: “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. 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.”
“Advancements in 3D printing of viable human organs.“
Mark Skylar-Scott, Wyss Institute researcher and co-author of the paper. “This is an entirely new paradigm for tissue fabrication. Rather than trying to 3D-print an entire organ’s worth of cells, SWIFT focuses on only 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 patients’ own cells.”