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The Future of Regenerative Medicine: Using Ice 3D Printing Technology to Solve the Complexity of Creating Natural Vascular Networks

2024-02-18 16:55

On February 11, 2024, researchers from Carnegie Mellon University presented a novel tissue engineering technique that utilizes ice 3D printing technology (3D-ICE) to create blood vessels. This technology uses water as ink to create micrometer level details in ice structures. A key aspect of this work involves the decellularization process. During this process, cellular components are removed, while the extracellular matrix (ECM) is retained for tissue regeneration. The bio ink derived from decellularized extracellular matrix (dECM) is subsequently used in the 3D printing process. Although decellularization methods have their advantages and limitations, they play an important role in creating realistic blood vessels using ice 3D printing technology.

Constructing artificial blood vessel templates
Biological 3D printing is a technology that combines cells, growth factors, and biomaterials using 3D printing technology, with the potential to manufacture functional structures for tissue engineering applications. However, the clinical application of bioprinted live cell constructs faces some challenges, one of which is the lack of functional blood vessels and small tubes in artificial organs manufactured through 3D printing technology. Researchers are using an ice 3D printing technology to create stents for artificial veins and arteries. This type of printer uses water as ink, and its working principle is to drop water onto a cold surface, then quickly freeze, forming continuously growing ice sculptures. The printed structure has micrometer level details, which are then coated with gelatin based material. Melt the ice through ultraviolet radiation, leaving a smooth channel similar to blood vessels. Researchers have demonstrated that they can allow endothelial cells to grow in these channels for two weeks, indicating that laboratory grown blood vessels may capture the complex geometric shape of the real human vascular network.

Development of elastic gas mixture gel
Another noteworthy development in this field is the creation of mechanical elastic mixed gas gel.
The team said that at present, they are actively developing new 3D printing technology to combine hydrogel with fiber. This unique combination can produce structures with fiber structure and uniaxial cell arrangement, thereby reducing the processing requirements of hydrogels and improving their mechanical properties. They are exploring powder bed fusion (PBF) 3D printing technology to manufacture complex, patient specific implants and meet high-precision requirements in biomedical applications.


The cutting-edge biological 3D printing technology not only innovatively uses ice molds to manufacture artificial blood vessels, but also foreshadows a bright future in the field of organ transplantation. These advances may lower the manufacturing cost and speed of organs in the body to meet the huge global demand for organ transplantation. Currently, the team is conducting research and experiments on optimizing the 3D printing process with heavy water and artificial intelligence, further highlighting the potential of this technology to bring revolutionary changes in the field of organ transplantation.
Although still in the early stages of development, this concept validation indicates that using 3D printing technology has the potential to lower the manufacturing cost and speed of internal organs, thereby meeting the high demand for organ transplantation worldwide.