3D Printing bioprinting Blended Reality CCAM Cell tissue Education gastrointestinal Medicine Organovo vascular Yale University

March 25, 2021

Professor John Geibel, MD, vice chair, of the Department of Surgery, and director of surgical research at Yale University, has organized a team comprised of surgical residents, lab technicians, Yale undergraduates, and medical students in an effort to advance a novel application of 3D bioprinting to generate universal repair patches that can seal intestinal lesions in vivo, and fully integrate into the native intestine.

Because of their human-like internal biological make-up, In their first phase of research, Geibel’s research team has focused their efforts on  integrating their 3D bioprints into rats. Using a 3D printer from Organovo, a medical research laboratory based in California, bio-printed repair patches were implanted in the rats’ small intestines, and the results were largely successful with many of the animals surviving with normal activity, weight gain, and stool output. Efforts are also being made to 3D print cylindrical shapes that mirror the shape of an intestine. Initially, it took six hours just to print a single tube. However, 3D printed tubes can now be produced within six minutes thanks to modifications made to the printer. This will not only speed up research, but, down the line when 3D printing of biomaterial becomes common practice in the medical field, it’ll be useful in emergency situations where a person who needs a vascular or gastrointestinal replacement can have a custom one created for them in little time. Additionally, bioprinted material can be useful for drug analysis. Ultimately, this project has implications in various medical industries.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, research done with tubes have been in vitro and studies are ongoing as Geibel’s research team continues to experiment with new designs and conduct pathology on them.

Short term goals include speeding up the printing process, experimenting with producing tubes of varying sizes, and varying organ shapes, while also strengthening the organ so that it can endure the vast amounts of liquid it will be expected to carry. Clinical application is the ultimate goal, but immediate subsequent research phases will move away from studying rats and onto larger animals with the hope that they will eventually be able to utilize human cell tissue and work toward human trials. Human trials, however, are several years away. 

Excitingly, there are still opportunities for members of the Yale community to join Professor Geibel’s research team. According to Professor Geibel, they’re always happy to discuss ways for students and other Yale community members to get involved. In many cases, team members had no experience with 3D printing before joining the research team, and, therefore, Yale undergrads who are simply interested in cutting edge medical technology but have no experience in 3D shouldn’t hesitate to reach out.

Do you have a project you’d like to develop but don’t know where to start? Maybe you’re interested in working on a team, but you don’t know what projects are in development that need support. Please contact Blended Reality using our google form for more information. Advising, collaborating, and building dynamic and effective teams are key aspects of Blended Reality’s ongoing mission to support technological experimentation, creative expression, and local and global-level problem solving. Reach out and stay tuned to this blog or more news on the exciting tech projects ongoing at Yale University.