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Our biofabrication and advanced scaffold design research

We use in-vitro cell culture techniques in our biofabrication research. Our aim is to develop and test bioinks and other biomaterials that can be used in additive manufacturing (or 3D bioprinting).

Our research into photo-polymerisable hydrogels offers exciting possibilities as a print medium which, when made into useful geometries and light-cured, provides structurally stable but biodegradable superstructures for hosting live cells and delivering growth and cell signaling factors.

Co-culture models are a growing area of research for us. Our combined technologies can produce complex three-dimensional living tissues, offering us better options for high-volume drug and therapies testing.

Close up of PhD candidate filling 3D printer with bioink

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Current projects

Developing smart and adaptable bioinks to bridge the gap between native and engineered cartilage tissues

Dr Gabriella Lindberg researches the design of cell-instructive photo-polymerisable hydrogels used as bioinks and bioresins in 3D bioprinting.

Her aim is to develop sophisticated print media to help engineered structures mimic the architectural organisation and biological niche of living tissues that have been lost to trauma or disease.

As new tissue is formed the microenvironments constantly change and so bioinks need to be adaptable and cued to the changing needs of the surrounding living tissues.

Understanding the interactions between materials, cells, and the extra cellular matrix, is key to developing bioresponsive biomaterials that can adapt to the spatial-temporal changes of healing tissues.

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Providing ideal micro-environments to encourage bioassembly of living tissue

Engineered macroscopic structures containing living cells can give us automated construction of living tissues, so long as we can control the microenvironment.

Mitch Durham’s research into this process involves incorporating biocompatible hydrogels with 3D biofabrication strategies to provide efficient and quick automated bioassembly of living tissue. His approach uses modules containing specific cell types, growth factors or other stimuli to provide an ideal environment for tissue regeneration.

These principles can transfer to multiple types of tissues and will hopefully expand the field of personalised medical implants.

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Nanocomposite biomaterials for biofabrication of engineered bone constructs

Improving and expanding the range of biomaterials available for use in biofabrication is the research aim of Cesar Alcala Orozco, and he is pursuing options that also provide cell signaling cues for bone tissue development.

His project involves synthesizing novel nanocomposite biomaterials and assessing their biological functionality.

He also assesses bioink options for print fidelity and shape retention qualities when fabricated into scaffolds, and evaluates the physiochemical characterisation of the fabricated constructs.

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Developing a more physiologically relevant 3D breast cancer model

Incorporating breast cancer cells and adipocytes with a visible-light-cured hydrogel system (Gel-MA) is Jessika Wise’s research strategy for developing a more physiologically relevant three-dimensional breast cancer model.

This 3D co-culture model is useful for investigating interactions between breast cancer cells and adipocytes which make up a large proportion of the tumour microenvironment, as well as for testing novel therapeutics.

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