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Exploring Vascular Disease with 3-D Bioprinter

November 17, 2016

BioE Associate Professor Guohao Dai has developed a 3-D bioprinter to create tissue cultures for use in disease modeling and drug discovery.

Local Coverage: 3Ders.org, TCT Magazine


Source: News @ Northeastern

Nowa­days, 3-​​D printed objects are ubiq­ui­tous, from toys to office sup­plies to coffee mugs. But new North­eastern fac­ulty member Guohao Dai is pio­neering this tech­nology to bring bio­engi­neering solu­tions to chal­lenges in vas­cular biology. Specif­i­cally, he’s 3-​​D bio­printing live tissue with vas­cular perfusion.

Dai, asso­ciate pro­fessor in the Depart­ment of Bio­engi­neering, has devel­oped a 3-​​D bio­printer to create tissue cul­tures for use in human dis­ease mod­eling and drug dis­covery. This is no small feat. As Dai explained, you can’t just take a com­mer­cial 3-​​D printer and start cre­ating human tissue. It’s too harsh an envi­ron­ment. “It requires a very gentle process to build a live tissue,” he said. “If we use an indus­trial 3-​​D printer to print live tissue, all the cells would be dead.”

Dai’s research is focused largely on using bio­engi­neering to gen­erate insights into blood vessel regen­er­a­tion and vas­cular dis­ease. His 3-​​D printer—for which he devel­oped both the hard­ware and software—can print tis­sues with small chan­nels that func­tion as blood ves­sels. His work hasn’t quite repli­cated human tissue yet, but, as he put it, “it’s one step toward fab­ri­cated tissue with blood flow.” In 2014 he received a National Sci­ence Foun­da­tion CAREER Award to advance stem cell research in this area.

To better under­stand dis­ease, Dai is also funded by the National Insti­tutes of Health and the Amer­ican Heart Asso­ci­a­tion to study the mol­e­c­ular dif­fer­ences between arteries and veins. Overall, the goal of his research is to pro­vide a basis for devel­oping novel ther­a­peutic approaches to vascular-​​related dis­or­ders such as car­dio­vas­cular and neu­rovas­cular dis­eases and cancer pro­gres­sion in blood vessels.

It requires a very gentle process to build a live tissue. If we use an indus­trial 3-​​D printer to print live tissue, all the cells would be dead.
—Guohao Dai, asso­ciate pro­fessor of bioengineering

Dai comes to North­eastern from Rens­se­laer Poly­technic Insti­tute, where he was an asso­ciate pro­fessor in the Depart­ment of Bio­med­ical Engi­neering. He received his doc­torate degree in bio­med­ical engi­neering from the Mass­a­chu­setts Insti­tute of Tech­nology and com­pleted his post-​​doctoral training in vas­cular biology at Har­vard Med­ical School. He received his master’s and bachelor’s degrees in bio­me­chanics and mechanics, respec­tively, from Peking Uni­ver­sity in China.

Expressing excite­ment about joining the Depart­ment of Bio­engi­neering, being in the heart of Boston—a city known for its world-​​class hos­pi­tals and health­care innovation—and building inter­dis­ci­pli­nary col­lab­o­ra­tions with col­leagues both at and out­side the uni­ver­sity, he said: “I can’t even imagine how many oppor­tu­ni­ties are out there.”