Bio-printers that allow scientists to design complex tissues and organs. It sounds like science fiction, but not to scientists at the Alireza Mashaghi lab at the Leiden Academic Center for Drug Research. The laboratory was recently equipped with two state-of-the-art bio-printers: BioX and LumenX +. 3D and 4D bio-printed fabrics are expected to revolutionize the biomedical field by eliminating the need for laboratory animals and enabling high-tech innovations such as next-generation organ chips.
Bioprinting has received a lot of attention because of its ability to recapitulate native human tissue. “The two Leiden bio-printers both have their own qualities,” explains Mashaghi. BioX is capable of printing at multiple nozzles, which allows printing of multilayer structures with distinct cellular components. The light-based LumenX + printer is exceptionally accurate. “Printers can also be combined with each other and with other complementary approaches to design even more sophisticated fabrics. “
Printed fabrics can replace animal experiments
“With our expertise, we can help make animal testing redundant. “
According to Mashaghi, there is growing interest in developing alternatives to the use of animals in research. Mashaghi: “Animal models are still the norm in preclinical studies. But the high drug failure rates in these clinical trials suggest that the differences between animals and humans are too great. Laboratory animals are therefore neither reliable models of human disease nor good predictors of drug efficacy and toxicity. ‘ The ethical issues associated with animal testing are also of great concern. Mashaghi: “Bio-printed fabrics could offer a solution. We hope to contribute to this revolution in our field.
Fight viral diseases
The mission of the Mashaghi laboratory is to bridge the gap between medicine, physical sciences and engineering. In this way, the group hopes to develop new approaches to combat the diseases that impose a significant burden on our society. The laboratory has been at the forefront of developing technical models for viral diseases, including Ebola, Lassa and Covid-19. 3D and 4D bioprinting technologies will enable the LACDR group to create the next generation of disease models for viral diseases and beyond.
Open to collaborations
This type of interdisciplinary research often requires collaborations between several research laboratories. Mashaghi: “We anticipate that the unique technology available in our lab will be of interest to our colleagues at Leiden Bio Science Park, Leiden University Medical Center and other centers across the country. We are open to collaborations and hope to broaden the scope of applications of viral diseases to other infectious, inflammatory and cancerous diseases. ‘
Huaqi Tang, Yasmine Abouleila, Longlong Si, Ana Maria Ortega-Prieto, Christine L Mummery, Donald E Ingber, Alireza Mashaghi, Human Organs on Chip for Virology. Trends in Microbiology 28 (11): 934-946 (2020)