Tissue engineering strategies seek to overcome the limitations of current clinical approaches for the repair of damaged bone and cartilage tissues in order to restore quality of life to millions of people burdened by the pain and limited mobility associated with orthopedic defects. Most biological tissues are composed of a complex microarchitecture with well-defined extracellular matrix composition, mechanical properties, and cell populations. Due to its high level of complexity, in vitro replication of these tissues to engineer relevant organs or organoids is non-trivial.
While 3D printing has become an increasingly popular technique for fabrication, the setup cost and user learning curve for commercial systems has hindered its widespread implementation. However, open-source 3D printing systems introduce a cost-effective means for accessible and repeatable experimentation that is easily modifiable to fit a particular tissue engineering niche.
This TR&D focuses on developing multi-material, open-source biofabrication system with the potential to recapitulate heterogeneous tissue by printing material composites and depositing growth factors in a gradient organization. It works on concert with other TR&Ds to develop and characterize biologically active composite 3D printed scaffolds for osteochondral tissue engineering. Its open source design also enables support for relevant Collaborative and Service projects by providing a platform to modify scaffold design criteria for different materials, bioactive molecules, and cell types.