BiofabricationCopyright: © Chair for Laser Technology LLT
Combining material and living cells to produce biologically functional tissue structures - this is the central idea of biofabrication. Fields of knowledge from chemistry, biology, physics and mechanical engineering meet in this branch of research.
In biofabrication, the production of three-dimensional structures is essential to simulate the natural behavior and physiological function of the enclosed cells. Conventional, single-layer culture conditions cannot adequately reflect these aspects. Advances in three-dimensional fabrication techniques enable the creation of an environment that simulates the cellular matrix and architecture of natural tissues, thus contributing to the generation of functional, biological structures in vitro.
The material requirements for the fabrication of these tissue-like structures are extensive: in addition to the suitability for the respective manufacturing process, high cytocompatibility and a surface that facilitates cell attachment are required. Mechanical and rheological requirements of the specific tissue to be replicated must equally be met.
The resulting biohybrid constructs show great potential in implant research and in the context of regenerative therapy approaches. Furthermore, they are suitable as tissue test models that contribute to the reduction of animal testing in pharmaceutical and cosmetic applications.
Biofabrication at the Chair for Laser Technology LLT
At the Chair of Laser Technology at RWTH Aachen University, research focuses on biofabrication using laser-assisted manufacturing processes. The laser as a precise tool allows the production of structures on the scale of cells and offers unique possibilities in cell handling, ranging from the transfer of high cell densities and spheroids to position-accurate single cell transfer.
Both Laser-assisted bioprinting processes in which cell-containing bio-inks are printed, as well as lithography-based in which scaffolds are produced and subsequently seeded with cells, are used. In close collaboration with the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT, the interaction of laser and matter in the respective printing processes are being investigated and novel hydrogel and polymer formulations for biocompatible 3D printing are being developed and tested. Additional biological investigations focus on the incorporation of cells into the printing process and cell seeding of the scaffolds, as well as on cell behavior and maturation of the biohybrid constructs under dynamic culture conditions.