Freeform Gelatin Microfluidics2 - Making a Meniscus
A few weeks ago we posted the news on our gelatin microfluidics, where we were able to show a successfully fabricated gelatin matrix with embedded perfusable vessels using Vitaprint. However, our Symbiolab team has been working tirelessly to refine the protocol and make it useful for larger and more complex structures.
The method works by printing a hydrogel with appropriate shear thinning properties into a gelatin matrix, and rinsing it away afterwards. The matrix itself thereby needs to be held in a container and the latter can take any shape or form that allows matrix penetration and movement of the nozzle. By curing, the matrix is cross-linked after printing and released (including the vessels) from the container, creating a perfusable gelatin object. Our model of choice in this experiment was the meniscus.
Meniscus related injuries are fairly common in running intensive sports, most manifesting as a tear in a certain part of the meniscus. Whether or not it will be able to regenerate correlates strongly with the area of the injury. Due to the lack of blood supply, tears in the avascular zone of the meniscus are typically more complicated, have a lower chance of repair and still pose a challenge for research and surgery (Makris et al., 2011). While the a-vascular (without blood vessels) zone regenerates less on its own, it may, however, be easier to fabricate. As vascularization is one of, if not the biggest challenge in tissue engineering at the moment, the vascular (with blood vessels) zone on the other hand, is very difficult to fabricate, but regenerates better on its own. Thus, the meniscus is an interesting subject for research and experimentation.
The results obtained in our Symbiolab look very promising and Boštjan will be presenting them at the Congress of the European Society for Artificial Organs, which will take place between the 5th and 9th of September in Vienna. If you’re visiting be sure to attend the talk, also, check out the video above and share.
1. Logan M, Watts M, Owen J, Myers P. Meniscal Repair in the Elite Athlete. The American Journal of Sports Medicine. 2009;37(6):1131-1134.
2. Makris E, Hadidi P, Athanasiou K. The knee meniscus: Structure–function, pathophysiology, current repair techniques, and prospects for regeneration. Biomaterials. 2011;32(30):7411-7431.