Let There Be Light! How the Lumen X+ is redefining bioprinting capabilities
By better replicating the in vivo cellular environment, the transition from 2D cell culturing to 3D set off a chain reaction of scientific advances in many research fields, including tissue engineering. Tissue engineers quickly adopted 3D bioprinters to extrude cells in defined spatial arrangements that were more physiologically relevant. Although extruded filaments were revolutionary, when scaling up to the size of human organs, it was the Lumen X+™ light-based bioprinter, powered by Volumetric, that precipitated a paradigm shift by enabling the higher resolutions needed to recreate the complex vasculature of organs such as the lung.
Form follows function
Shedding new light
As the vasculature in a human lung branches out, the airways and blood vessels get smaller and move closer together but never touch. A functional model of the lung needs to achieve that proximity to allow for the diffusion of gases to the blood vessels. Researchers do not want these vessels to ever fluidically connect, so they have to design a topology of entangled vessels that allow for the diffusional transport of nutrients from one vascular network to another.
To control how much of the bioink gets polymerized, Dr. Jordan Miller’s lab at Rice University tried including yellow food-safe additives as biocompatible photo absorbers of blue light, adding color to the otherwise transparent hydrogel. At the right concentration, the yellow additives restrict the effective polymerization range along the z axis, letting researchers fine-tune their hollow vessels.