Harvard’s Jennifer Lewis and Roche’s Annie Moisan have used 3D printing to fabricate a small but critical subunit of a kidney. The renal architecture contains living epithelial cells.
Earlier bioprinting approaches were adapted to form thick tissues. A 3D-printed silicone gasket was used to cast an engineered extracellular matrix as a base layer. “Fugitive ink” was printed in a shape similar to that of renal proximal tubules, and encapsulated with another layer of extracellular matrix.
The in vitro model functions like living kidney tissue, representing a significant advance from traditional 2D cell culture. The result could be an implant or assistive device, and/or more effective clinical trials.
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