From Academia: 3D Bioprinting for COVID, Metastasis CFD Modeling, Artificial Artery, Soft Tissue Surgical Guide

“From Academia” column feature recent, relevant, close to commercialization academic publications in the space of healthcare 3D printing, bioprinting, and related emerging technologies. 

Email: Rance Tino ([email protected]) if you want to pen an Expert Corner blog for us or want to share relevant academic publications with us.

Coronavirus disease 2019: A tissue engineering and regenerative medicine perspective

– Authored by Abbas Shafiee, Lida Moradi, Mayasari Lim, Jason Brown. Stem Cells Translational Medicine, 21 August 2020 

Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID‐19): a tissue engineering and regenerative medicine perspective (TERM). The TERM concepts have been used to develop three‐dimensional platforms to understand virus‐cell interactions and test drugs against COVID‐19. Besides, the biomaterials could be used to develop vaccines or as drug delivery systems. Copyright. Stem Cells Translational Medicine


Current therapies for novel coronavirus disease (COVID‐19) are generally used to manage rather than cure this highly infective disease. Therefore, there is a significant unmet medical need for a safe and effective treatment for COVID‐19. Inflammation is the driving force behind coronavirus infections, and the majority of deaths caused by COVID‐19 are the result of acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). It is crucial to control the inflammation as early as possible. To date, numerous studies have been conducted to evaluate the safety and efficacy of tissue engineering and regenerative medicine (TERM) products, including mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs), and their derivatives (eg, exosomes) for coronavirus infections, which could be applied for the COVID‐19. In this review, first, the impacts of COVID‐19 pandemic in the present and future of TERM research and products are briefly presented. Then, the recent clinical trials and the therapeutic benefits of MSCs in coronavirus‐induced ARDS are critically reviewed. Last, the recent advances in the field of tissue engineering relevant to the coronavirus infections, including three‐dimensional platforms to study the disease progression and test the effects of antiviral agents are described. Moreover, the application of biomaterials for vaccine technology, and drug delivery are highlighted. Despite promising results in the preclinical and clinical applications of MSC therapy for coronavirus infections, the controversy still exists, and thus further investigation is required to understand the efficacy of these therapies.

Examining metastatic behavior within 3D bioprinted vasculature for the validation of a 3D computational flow model

– Authored by W. F. Hynes, M. Pepona, C. Robertson, J. Alvarado, K. Dubbin, M. Triplett, J. J. Adorno, A. Randles and M. L. Moya. Science Advances. 26 August 2020

(A) Schematic representation of vascular bed printing using the sacrificial ink method. (B) Cytoskeletal morphology of microvascular endothelial cells shows high alignment in straight regions of the vascular bed (inset i, red border), with chaotic cytoskeletal alignment in the fork regions (inset ii, blue border). (C) Alignment of cytoskeleton (scale of 0.5 for randomly aligned to 1 for perfectly aligned) in perfused engineered beds shows high actin alignment in the wall of straight vascular regions (yellow arrows), whereas fork regions exhibit weak alignment (blue arrows). AU, arbitrary units. (D) Direction of preferential alignment follows flow direction. Colored arrows indicate principle flow direction (up, yellow; down, purple), which tends to agree with orientation direction of endothelial cell alignment. Copyright. Science Advances


Understanding the dynamics of circulating tumor cell (CTC) behavior within the vasculature has remained an elusive goal in cancer biology. To elucidate the contribution of hydrodynamics in determining sites of CTC vascular colonization, the physical forces affecting these cells must be evaluated in a highly controlled manner. To this end, we have bioprinted endothelialized vascular beds and perfused these constructs with metastatic mammary gland cells under physiological flow rates. By pairing these in vitro devices with an advanced computational flow model, we found that the bioprinted analog was readily capable of evaluating the accuracy and integrated complexity of a computational flow model, while also highlighting the discrete contribution of hydrodynamics in vascular colonization. This intersection of these two technologies, bioprinting and computational simulation, is a key demonstration in the establishment of an experimentation pipeline for the understanding of complex biophysical events.

Multifunctional Artificial Artery from Direct 3D Printing with Built‐In Ferroelectricity and Tissue‐Matching Modulus for Real‐Time Sensing and Occlusion Monitoring

– Authored by Jun Li,  Yin Long,  Fan Yang,  Hao Wei,  Ziyi Zhang,  Yizhan Wang,  Jingyu Wang,  Cheng Li,  Corey Carlos,  Yutao Dong,  Yongjun Wu,  Weibo Cai,  Xudong Wang. Advanced Functional Materials. 21 July 2020. 


Treating vascular grafts failure requires complex surgery procedures and is associated with high risks. A real-time monitoring vascular system enables quick and reliable identification of complications and initiates safer treatments early. Here, an electric field assisted 3D printing technology is developed to fabricate in situ-poled ferroelectric artificial arteries that offer battery-free real-time blood pressure sensing and occlusion monitoring capability. The functional artery architecture is made possible by the development of a ferroelectric biocomposite which can be quickly polarized during printing and reshaped into devised objects. The synergistic effect from the potassium sodium niobite particles and the polyvinylidene fluoride polymer matrix yields a superb piezoelectric performance (bulk-scale d33 > 12 pC N−1 ). The sinusoidal architecture brings the mechanical modulus close to the level of blood vessels. The desired piezoelectric and mechanical properties of the artificial artery provide excellent sensitivity to pressure change (0.306 mV mmHg−1 , R2 > 0.99) within the range of human blood pressure (11.25–225.00 mmHg). The high-pressure sensitivity and the ability to detect subtle vessel motion pattern change enable early detection of partial occlusion (e.g., thrombosis), allowing for preventing graft failure. This work demonstrates a promising strategy of incorporating multifunctionality to artificial biological systems for smart healthcare systems.

Using a 3D Printed “Phantom of the Opera” Soft Tissue Surgical Guide for Complex Facial Reconstruction

– Authored by Gina Sacks, Raquel M. Ulma, Samuel D. Dolphin, Stephanie Kline, Steven R. Buchman. FACE: Journal of the American Society of Maxillofacial Surgeons. 11 August 2020

3D printed models of the surgical guides for left orbit and cheek. The guides were modified to be interlocking. The malar mask had a lattice structure that allowed for better visualization of underlying structures. Copyright. FACE: Journal of the American Society of Maxillofacial Surgeons 


Computer-aided technology in the form of virtual surgical planning (VSP) and 3D printed surgical guides can allow for a more accurate reconstruction of complex maxillofacial deformities. While this technology is now routinely used for bony reconstruction, it is rarely utilized for soft tissue. In ballistic injuries, there is often disfiguring damage to the soft tissue, with the destruction of anatomic landmarks making satisfactory soft tissue reconstruction a unique challenge. In this study, the authors present the application of virtual surgical planning and 3D printed guides, in conjunction with anaplastology, for complex soft tissue reconstruction resulting from a gunshot injury. By combining tangible surgical models and aesthetic judgment in a team setting, it is possible to optimize the efficiency and accuracy of soft-tissue reconstruction in the setting of complex facial deformities.

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