Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Blood Vessels from Your Printer

14.09.2011
Researchers have been working at growing tissue and organs in the laboratory for a long time. These days, tissue engineering enables us to build up artificial tissue, although science still hasn’t been successful with larger organs.

Now, researchers at Fraunhofer are applying new techniques and materials to come up with artificial blood vessels in their BioRap project that will be able to supply artificial tissue and maybe even complex organs in future. They are exhibiting their findings at the Biotechnica Fair that will be taking place in Hannover, Germany on October 11-13.

There were more than 11,000 persons on the waiting list for organ transplantation in Germany alone at the beginning of this year, although on the average hardly half as many transplantations are performed. The aim of tissue engineering is to create organs in the laboratory for opening up new opportunities in this field. Unfortunately, researchers have still not been able to supply artificial tissue with nutrients because they do not have the necessary vascular system. Five Fraunhofer-institutes joined forces in 2009 to come up with biocompatible artificial blood vessels. It seemed impossible to build structures such as capillary vessels that are so small and complex and it was especially the branches and spaces that made life difficult for the researchers. But production engineering came to the rescue because rapid prototyping makes it possible to build workpieces specifically according to any complex 3-D model. Now, scientists at Fraunhofer are working on transferring this technology to the generation of tiny biomaterial structures by combining two different techniques: the 3-D printing technology established in rapid prototyping and multiphoton polymerization developed in polymer science.

Successful Combination
A 3-D inkjet printer can generate 3-dimensional solids from a wide variety of materials very quickly. It applies the material in layers of defined shape and these layers are chemically bonded by UV radiation. This already creates microstructures, but 3-D printing technology is still too imprecise for the fine structures of capillary vessels. This is why these researchers combine this technology with two-photon polymerization. Brief but intensive laser impulses impact the material and stimulate the molecules in a very small focus point so that crosslinking of the molecules occurs. The material becomes an elastic solid, due to the properties of the precursor molecules that have been adjusted by the chemists in the project team. In this way highly precise, elastic structures are built according to a 3-dimensional building plan. Dr. Günter Tovar is the project manager at the Fraunhofer Institute for Interfacial Engineering and Biotechnology IGB based in Stuttgart. When we caught up with him, he described the latest work: »The individual techniques are already functioning and they are presently working in the test phase; the prototype for the combined system is being built.«
When ink becomes an artificial vessel system
You have to have the right material to manufacture 3-dimensional elastic solids. This is the reason why the researchers came up with special inks because printing technology itself calls for very specific properties. The later blood vessels have to be flexible and elastic and interact with the natural tissue. Therefore, the synthetic tubes are biofunctionalized so that living body cells can dock onto them. The scientists integrate modified biomolecules – such as heparin and anchor peptides – into the inside walls. They also develop inks made of hybrid materials that contain a mixture of synthetic polymers and biomolecules right from the beginning. The second step is where endothelial cells that form the innermost wall layer of each vessel in the body can attach themselves in the tube systems. Günter Tovar points out that »the lining is important to make sure that the components of the blood do not stick, but are transported onwards.« The vessel can only work in the same fashion as its natural model to direct nutrients to their destination if we can establish an entire layer of living cells.
Opportunities for Medicine
The virtual simulation of the finished workpieces is just as significant for project success as the new materials and production techniques. Researchers have to precisely calculate the design of these structures and the course of the vascular systems to ensure optimum flow speeds while preventing back-ups. The scientists at Fraunhofer are still at the dawn of this entirely new technology for designing elastic 3-dimensionally shaped biomaterials, although this technology offers a whole series of opportunities for further development. Günter Tovar acknowledges »we are establishing a basis for applying rapid prototyping to elastic and organic biomaterials. The vascular systems illustrate very dramatically what opportunities this technology has to offer, but that’s definitely not the only thing possible.« One example would be building up completely artificial organs based on a circulation system with blood vessels created in this fashion to supply them with nutrients. They are still not suited for transplantations, but the complex of organs can be used as a test system to replace animal experiments. It would also be conceivable to treat bypass patients with artificial vessels. In any event, it will take a long time until we will actually be able to implant organs from the laboratory with their own blood vessels.

This is a project that the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP in Potsdam, Germany, the Fraunhofer Institute for Interfacial Engineering and Biotechnology IGB in Stuttgart, Germany, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, Germany, the Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Engineering and Automation IPA in Stuttgart, Germany and the Fraunhofer Institute for Material Mechanics IWM in Freiburg, Germany are all participating in. They are exhibiting a large model of an artificial blood vessel printed with conventional with rapid prototyping technologies and samples of their current developments in Hall 9, Stand D10 at the Biotechnica Fair.

Dr. rer. nat. Günter Tovar | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.fraunhofer.de/en/press/research-news/2010-2011/20/bloodvessels-rapidprototyping.jsp

More articles from Trade Fair News:

nachricht Fraunhofer HHI with latest VR technologies at NAB in Las Vegas
24.04.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Nachrichtentechnik, Heinrich-Hertz-Institut, HHI

nachricht Kiel nano research at the Hannover Messe
21.04.2017 | Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel

All articles from Trade Fair News >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

7th International Conference on Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaics in Freiburg on April 3-5, 2017

03.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

NASA's Fermi catches gamma-ray flashes from tropical storms

25.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Researchers invent process to make sustainable rubber, plastics

25.04.2017 | Materials Sciences

Transfecting cells gently – the LZH presents a GNOME prototype at the Labvolution 2017

25.04.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>