A team of bioengineers at Rice University and surgeons at the University of Pennsylvania, led in part by an Indian American scientist Pavan Atluri, have collaborated to create a new implant that could indicate medical technology may be on the cusp of developing replacement tissues and organs for transplantation.
The implant, which contains an intricate network of blood vessels, was created in a 3D printer using just sugar and silicone.
The researchers have recently released their findings in a study called “In vivo anastomosis and perfusion of a 3D printed construct containing micro-channel networks,” published in the journal Tissue Engineering Part C: Methods.
“They don’t yet look like the blood vessels found in organs, but they have some of the key features relevant for a transplant surgeon,” said Jordan Miller, professor of bioengineering at Rice and head of the bioengineering team. “We created a construct that has one inlet and one outlet, which are about 1 millimeter in diameter, and these main vessels branch into multiple smaller vessels, which are about 600 to 800 microns.
The team or surgeons from the University of Pennsylvania was led by Indian American Pavan Atluri, an assistant professor of surgery there.
Atluri’s group used Doppler imaging technology to team observe and measure blood flow through the construct and found that it withstood physiologic pressures and remained open and unobstructed for up to three hours.
“This study provides a first step toward developing a transplant model for tissue engineering where the surgeon can directly connect arteries to an engineered tissue,” Miller said. “In the future we aim to utilize a biodegradable material that also contains live cells next to these perfusable vessels for direct transplantation and monitoring long term.”