A self-assembly based supramolecular bioink with hierarchical control As a new bioprinting tool

Conference Dates

June 5-9, 2017


Tissue engineering aims to capture details of the extracellular matrix (ECM) that stimulate cell growth and tissue regeneration. Molecularly complex materials or advanced additive fabrication techniques are often used to capture aspects of the ECM. Promising biofabrication techniques often lack nano and molecular scale control, as well as materials that can recreate the natural ECM or selectively guide cell behaviour. On the other hand, complex biomaterials based on molecular self-assembly tend to lack reproducibility and order beyond the nanoscale. We propose a new material fabrication platform that integrates the benefits of bioprinting and molecular self-assembly to overcome the current major limitations. Our approach relies on the co-assembly of peptide amphiphiles (PAs) with biomolecules and/or proteins found in the ECM, whilst exploiting the droplet-on-demand (DoD) printing process. Taking advantage of the interfacial fluid forces during printing, it is possible to guide the self-assembly into aligned or disordered nanofibers, hydrogel structures of different geometries and sizes, surface topographies and higher-ordered structures made from multiple hydrogels. The co-assembly process can be performed during printing and in cell-friendly conditions, whilst exhibiting high cell viability (> 88 %). Moreover, multiple cell types can be spatially distributed on the outside or embedded within the tuneable biomimetic scaffolds. The combination of self-assembly with 3D-bioprinting, provides a basis for a new biofabrication platform to create hydrogels of complex geometry, structural hierarchy and tuneable chemical composition.

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