Allevi Author: Plant Based Hydrogels for Cell Laden Bioprinting

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Time for another inductee to the #AlleviAuthor club. Researchers from University of California, Berkeley and IBM used their Allevi 2 bioprinter to study the printability and viability of plant based bioinks.

In their paper titled, “Agarose-Based Hydrogels as Suitable Bioprinting Materials for Tissue Engineering” and published in ACS Biomaterials Science & Engineering, they compared agarose-based hydrogels commonly used for cartilage tissue engineering to Pluronic. The goal is to find a bioink that has great printability without sacrificing cell viability.

The team compared mechanical and rheological properties, including yield stress, storage modulus, and shear thinning, as well as construct shape fidelity to assess their potential as a bioink for cell-based tissue engineering. Read on to find out which ratios of alginate and agarose demonstrated the best cell viability as well as print structure for their cartilage tissue engineering needs:

New Product Alert: Organ-on-a-Chip Kit

allevi organ on a chip organ-on-a-chip microfluidics PDMS carbohydrate glass volumetric inc vasculature

Organ-on-a-chip technology, developed by the Wyss Institute at Harvard, has had a revolutionary impact on the field of tissue engineering by allowing the creation of models that mimic organ function and model diseases in a device that fits in the palm of your hand.

We were amazed in 2012 when we read Dr. Dongeun Huh and Dr. Donald Ingber's paper in Science Translational Medicine that successfully created a diseased lung-on-a-chip. Their findings demonstrated the ability to identify a drug's life-threatening toxicity that went unnoticed through traditional experimental methods, such as animal testing models. It was a milestone achievement and it inspired us to learn more about tissue engineering and its possible impact on humanity.

Since then, however, organ-on-a-chip manufacturing has mostly remained unchanged. Conventional methods give you little freedom to easily customize and create inner-chip architectures for your experimental models. We think it's time for a change...

Today, we're excited to offer Carbohydrate Glass from Volumetric™ Inc. and published in Nature Materials in our new 3D Organ-on-a-Chip Kit. Carbohydrate Glass is an incredible sacrificial material that has excellent printability and makes high-resolution microchannels. This new bioink kit will provide you the ability to create custom 3D geometries within organ-on-a-chip devices and allow for design freedom to create custom in vitro organ systems that were previously not possible. 

Our mission here at Allevi is to get technologies like this one into the hands of researchers who can really make a difference. We have worked closely with Dr. Jordan Miller, co-founder of Volumetric Inc, to perfect the protocol for the Allevi platform. We believe that custom organ-on-a-chip designs will be a major area of innovation for the tissue engineering and pharmaceutical community. This new kit provides another unique high impact application for biofabrication to not only change the field today, but the healthcare industry tomorrow. We can't wait to see what you will do with it.

3D Printing Shatters Paradigms from Manufacturing to the Life Sciences

Technological progress is marked by highly disruptive technologies - technologies that people don’t think they need when a new market comes up, but which fundamentally change the way we live our lives.

We saw it with personal computers in the late 70s and early 80s. We saw it again with smartphones in the last decade. And we’re seeing it right now with 3D printing of plastics.

Major industries are already pulling 3D plastic printing closer to the mainstream. The automobile industry is 3D printing parts and the start-up, Urbee, is making the push towards almost entirely 3D printed cars! The defense industry is incorporating 3D printing into weapons systems and training devices to lower manufacturing costs. Boeing is 3D printing over 300 parts for its planes.

boeing 3d printed plane parts

Plastic 3D printing has allowed rapid prototyping to take on a whole new meaning. Scale mock-ups can be created with incredible precision and reproducibility without needing to retool large-scale manufacturing operations. It’s a potential game-changer in terms of cutting shipping and storage costs - something that could dramatically offset the higher per unit cost of manufacturing with 3D printing.

So now we come back to the life sciences. Can we expect a similar trajectory for 3D bioprinting as we’ve seen for 3D plastic printing? Maybe. We definitely believe it can!

 A complex 3D construct for cartilage, for example, with interconnected pores and multiple different types of layers would normally take days to make piece by piece. A bioprinter could, perhaps, do it all in a fraction of that time.

A high school biology lesson on diffusion across a membrane takes on a whole new meaning as students observe a colored dye flowing through a 3D gel with an embedded membrane structure which they made as opposed to looking at a 2D picture in a book.

Trying to decide how a liver cell behaves in the body’s 3D microenvironment now becomes a more manageable task because you can actually print a whole liver sub-unit, label different structures radioactively or with dyes and follow everything in 3D.

To understand our highly complex bodies, we’ve looked at simple organisms such as a planarian to understand how development works. Let’s add a powerful tool to combine that critical understanding of development with the ability to recreate it in an environment that mimics nature much more closely than ever before. Let’s take the lessons we have learned about functionality and easy access from personal computers, smartphones, and plastic 3D printing and apply them to tackle some of the biggest problems we face as a species - those of our health and fitness.