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Can immune cells prevent 3D printed blood vessels from falling apart?

Raised of $3,623 Goal
Funded on 6/19/23
Successfully Funded
  • $4,292
  • 118%
  • Funded
    on 6/19/23

About This Project

Mass production of cells is limited by nutrient delivery. 3D printing of hydrogel has enabled the printing of blood vessels, which allows direct cell feeding, but they do not mature, and fall apart. Immune cells (macrophages) participate in embryonic development and repair of blood vessels. They control inflammation, and provide signals to stimulate growth. I will print blood vessels with macrophages, optimise the bioprinting process, and investigate advantages to growth for mass production.

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What is the context of this research?

Improved cell growth efficiency is the key to mass production for food, medical, and research purposes. Cell food is extremely expensive. Hydrogel scaffolds are commonplace in tissue engineering as they provide a biologically compatible and malleable environment for cells to grow on, but even with hydrogels, mature and functional structure is hard to sustain. Endothelial cells have been shown to improve tissue growth in 3D hydrogel cultures. Endothelium grows towards cells with inadequate oxygen supply, and induce survival signalling, maturation, and cell proliferation. Macrophages are known to aid in tissue reconstruction, and help endothelial cells reach hypoxic areas faster. Combining these qualities with 3D printed vasculature may sustain blood vessel maturation.

What is the significance of this project?

Biomimicry has an incredible track record in innovation, and in any technology aiming to grow tissue, mimicking vasculature may improve viability. Void-Free 3D bioprinting is a huge step towards custom microstructure fabrication, hopefully opening the doors to various technologies thought of as science fiction for decades. This research would provide knowledge for bionic optimisation of the process for mass production.

This would benefit many fields, including human tissue on a chip for drug testing removing the need for animals, animal muscle to provide food removing the need for both animal deaths and use of arable land for crops to feed livestock, artificial organ manufacture eliminating the need for organ donors, and any research involving tissue culture, medicinal or otherwise.

What are the goals of the project?

The project will begin in April, and will continue until the end of June. I'll start by obtaining macrophages and endothelial cells, and testing their viability and characterisations (marker presentation and morphology). I'll culture them in variations of gelatine-based hydrogels and find suitable physical properties for growth and maturation. I'll then optimise the biocompatible hydrogels for bioprinting as bioinks, altering variables like printing temperatures, speeds, and patterns to best control the 3D structures being printed. Finally, I will bioprint the macrophages and endothelial cells together and observe long term culture. Improved survival and maturation of this printed tissue will support its value in the culture of other cells using it as a feeder layer.


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The Uni of Bristol health sciences faculty requires for my MSc lab project to be self-funded, as it is optional. To this end, they have set a fee of £2200. This is why I have included the platform fee and payment fee in my budget, so the fund covers everything done as part of my own research project.

Because my project must use several high cost items, I have added £300 onto the bench fees to accommodate.

Endorsed by

Industrial farming is one of the greatest threats to our world: forest destruction, cruelty to animals, pollution and global heating are all direct results of our meat eating habit. This project will make a significant contribution to the future of our planet by furthering research into lab grown meat. People will always want to eat meat, and lab grown meat is a genuine solution. Patrick Buchanan has been focused on this area of study for years, he will bring energy, passion and determination to his research.

Project Timeline

Preliminary research has been done over the last 5 months. 1st two weeks of lab work will be training in cell culture and hydrogel printing techniques. The next month will be finding suitable hydrogel compositions for cell growth and bioink properties, and suitable printing methods to make reliable structures. The final month will be 3D printing of vasculature with cells, and daily imaging and chemical analysis to observe any changes compared to 2D culture.

Apr 17, 2023

Train in cell culture and VF3DP. Isolate and characterise cell lines.

Apr 17, 2023

Optimise hydrogel properties for growth and differentiation.

Apr 24, 2023

Optimise hydrogel bioink properties for bioprinting.

Apr 28, 2023

Optimise bioprinting process to obtain various reliable vasculature structures.

May 08, 2023

Bioprint vasculature with cells.

Meet the Team

Patrick Buchanan
Patrick Buchanan


University of Bristol (Faculty of Life Sciences, Faculty of Health Sciences), Francis Crick Institute, Royal Society of Chemistry, Imperial University, Nuffield Institute.
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Patrick Buchanan

I've followed cultivated meat for 5 years. I got a degree to enter the field, and to people reading this who have already listened to me for hours, thank you! I believe in a future without irresponsible damage to the environment, inhumane treatment of animals, or abandoning impoverished people around the world. We can do this using technology in an ethical manner, ensuring transparency and trust. This open-source research will be a small but important step towards that.

I've been a biochemistry fanatic for 8 years, and a chef for 7. I've always been worried about environmental and political crises, and luckily found a way to combine these in cultivated meat. I got a 2.1 in my BSc in biochemistry at the Uni of Bristol last year, specialising in developmental biology, the extracellular matrix, and serum free media. I'm now doing an MSc in stem cells and regeneration.

My first lab work was at the Francis Crick, where I worked with Holger Apitz to understand fruit fly vision. In four weeks, I identified a marker for reflex coordinating cells and discovered an unknown neuron subtype. I was a finalist in the U18s Big Bang competition and was asked to present my work at Imperial University and the Royal Society of Chemistry. This pushed me into the field of developmental biology.

I also presented at the RSC as part of an investigation into air pollution around schools. I worked to collect data on ozone and nitrates, proving that government environmental guidelines were being broken everywhere. This helped push me into finding a way to fight for environmental justice that didn’t rely on governments and policy.

Over the last year, I completed a literature review as part of my BSc that investigated the core fields relevant to cultivated meat, and their recent technological innovations. I believe this field will be the testbed for a huge range of research techniques that use large scale cell culture, like organ transplants and the end of animal testing.

Lab Notes

Nothing posted yet.

Project Backers

  • 31Backers
  • 118%Funded
  • $4,292Total Donations
  • $138.45Average Donation
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