There may be another machine to add to our list of top 10 bioprinters on the market, or in development. And this one could prove to be more important than all of the rest, as Revotek, the Chinese company behind the technology, claims that their new bioprinter is capable of 3D print blood vessels, a missing key ingredient to more complex 3D printed tissues.
In the video below, you’ll see the blood vessel printer working two nozzles alternatively to 3D print biocompatible tissues in the shape of a blood vessel. It is claimed that the system is capable of creating a 10-cm tube in just two minutes. The material is then placed into a culture of stem cells, growth factors, and nutrients, where Revotek says that it can differentiate the cells necessary to create a functioning blood vessel, keeping the stem cells active the whole time.
Kang Yujian, chief scientist at Revotek, explains, “The core of the printer is the BioBrick, in which there are stem cells. Given certain environment and conditions, it [the stem cell] can, according to our requirements, differentiate into the cells we need.” Dai Kerong, an academic at the Chinese Academy of Engineering, adds, “The achievement is not just about printing one blood vessel, but finding the method of sustaining vascular cells and other active substances. The method is useful in blood vessel printing, and in the printings of livers, kidneys and other organs.”
There are numerous cases of researchers and businesses working to 3D print blood vessels, which would be necessary to bring blood flow to cells being cultivated into complex organ tissues. Researchers at Harvard were able to print blood vessels in February of 2014; the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine (WFIRM) is working towards the same goal; and the Fraunhofer Institute has its ArtiVasc3D project. The implication here is that Revotek has fully completed its system, paving the way for commercial and research use.