BioP3 Technology Makes 3D Tissues, Someday Whole Organs
A new device for building large tissues from living components of three-dimensional microtissues borrows on ideas from electronics manufacturing. The Bio-Pick, Place, and Perfuse (BioP3) is a step toward someday making whole organs. A new grant from the National Science Foundation will allow for major improvements including automation.
The BioP3 technology was developed by a team including researchers at Brown University bioengineer, Rhode Island Hospital and the Warren Alpert Medical School. The team introduced BioP3 in a new paper titled “Bio-Pick, Place, and Perfuse: A New Instrument for 3D Tissue Engineering,” published in the journal Tissue Engineering Part C.
The new instrument could someday build replacement human organs the way electronics are assembled today: with precise picking and placing of parts. In this case, the parts are not resistors and capacitors, but 3-D microtissues containing thousands to millions of living cells that need a constant stream of fluid to bring them nutrients and to remove waste.
A Complete, Independent System to Build Large-Scale, High-Density Tissues, Perhaps Including Whole Organs Such as Livers, Pancreases, or Kidneys
The BioP3 allows assembly of larger structures from small living microtissue components, said Jeffrey Morgan, professor of molecular pharmacology, physiology and biotechnology at Brown University. Therefore, future versions of BioP3 may finally make possible the manufacture of whole organs such as livers, pancreases, or kidneys. Morgan added:
For us it’s exciting because it’s a new approach to building tissues, potentially organs, layer by layer with large, complex living parts. In contrast to 3-D bioprinting that prints one small drop at a time, our approach is much faster because it uses pre-assembled living building parts with functional shapes and a thousand times more cells per part.
The BioP3 is made mostly from parts available at Home Depot for less than $200. It includes a nozzle that allows an operator using knobs to precisely move it up, down, left, right, out and in. The nozzle can pick up, carry and release living microtissues without doing any damage to them, which allows the operator to build complex 3D tissues by picking and placing microtissues.
In September, Morgan received a $1.4-million, three-year grant from the National Science Foundation to enhance the BioP3, including automating the movement of the nozzle to speed up production. The team hopes that a future version of the BioP3 will be a complete, independent system to precisely assemble large-scale, high-density tissues, perhaps including whole organs for biomedical applications.
Images from Brown University and Shutterstock.