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July 01, 2011

Automated Embryonic stem cell bioprinting for uniform and controlled size embryoid body formation

Biomicrofluidics - Embryonic stem cell bioprinting for uniform and controlled size embryoid body formation

Two main goals of bio-inkjet printers is to grow new body parts for organ transplants or tissues for making regenerative medicine repairs. Making body parts, organs or tissues begin with a printed mass of embryonic stem cells.

Getting the embroid body formed correctly and without mechanical trauma is key to preserving the stem cells' astounding ability to develop into any desired tissue. A new automated bioprinting approach appears to do this better than manual pipetting in the "hang-drop" method traditionally used.

Three key advances -

* Enhanced uniformity of size and ability to control droplet size. These are key variables because they determine how the embroid bodies will grow.

* Achieving a scalable system that can print one cell or tens of thousands per droplet—a level of precise manipulation not previously available.

* Faster droplet formation. The new system delivers 160 droplets/seconds, versus 10 minutes for the hang-drop method.


Embryonic stem cells (ESCs) are pluripotent with multilineage potential to differentiate into virtually all cell types in the organism and thus hold a great promise for cell therapy and regenerative medicine. In vitro differentiation of ESCs starts with a phase known as embryoid body (EB) formation. EB mimics the early stages of embryogenesis and plays an essential role in ESC differentiation in vitro. EB uniformity and size are critical parameters that directly influence the phenotype expression of ESCs. Various methods have been developed to form EBs, which involve natural aggregation of cells. However, challenges persist to form EBs with controlled size, shape, and uniformity in a reproducible manner. The current hanging-drop methods are labor intensive and time consuming. In this study, we report an approach to form controllable, uniform-sized EBs by integrating bioprinting technologies with the existing hanging-drop method. The approach presented here is simple, robust, and rapid. We present significantly enhanced EB size uniformity compared to the conventional manual hanging-drop method.

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