Home Research & Education Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine sends bioprinted tissue into space for...

Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine sends bioprinted tissue into space for first time

The Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine (WFIRM) will deliver 3D-printed solid tissue constructs to the International Space Station (ISS) aboard commercial spaceflight company Axiom Space’s next all-private astronaut mission.

The bio-printed liver and kidney tissues will be studied in microgravity for 10 days to evaluate vascularization of thick tissue and the effectiveness of this technology.

“This launch marks an important next step for our regenerative medicine research related to vascularized tissue,” said WFIRM Director Anthony Atala, MD. “This is an opportunity to develop an interim/early step toward creating solid tissues/partial organs for transplantation into patients in the future to address the organ shortage.”

One of the key issues in this research is cell adhesion, which allows cells to adhere to each other or to the material in which they are embedded.

“While many components of cell adhesion have been studied in microgravity, every time the model changes it allows for new insight as to how changes in cell adhesion may affect human organs in microgravity,” said James Yoo, MD, PhD, professor of regenerative medicine at WFIRM. “We look forward to determining how this bioprinted tissue will model a more complete version of adherence reactions to microgravity.”

The WFIRM team is using a digital light processing bioprinter to print liver and kidney tissue into a unique architecture. To mature the tissue, the samples are continuously placed in perfused media before launch.

In parallel with the research on the ISS, a duplicate of the samples will be observed on Earth, serving as a gravity control.

“Taking the first steps toward future in-space manufacturing applications for biomedical products on Ax-2 is exciting,” said Jana Stoudemire, Director, In Space Manufacturing, Axiom Space. “We are pleased to work with recognized leaders from the WFIRM team, highly regarded for their excellence in tissue engineering and translational regenerative medicine, to advance this important work as we build a future commercial space economy together.”

WFIRM team members include WFIRM Director Anthony Atala, MD; James Yoo, MD, PhD; Sang Jin Lee, PhD; Colin Bishop, PhD; Kelsey Willson and Timothy Dombroski, PhD, PhD students.

Find out more about WFIRM at school.wakehealth.edu.

For more information about Axiom Space, please visit axiomspace.com.

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