The composition of our consortium and our expertise are perfectly suited to address the challenges related to printing a functional tissue, including information of cell arrangements and cell-cell interactions, cell source and viability, vascularization, and these make our research methodology plausible for achieving the goal. We will tackle these issues with an innovative approach and overarching framework that stems from an intimate knowledge of the developmental mechanisms underlying pancreas organogenesis.
Harnessing developmental biology concepts will enable us to reproduce native biological structures and in vivo-like environment that provides the cells with the same regulatory factors (molecular, structural and physical) that govern in vivo developmental and cellular processes during and after the bioprinting. This is a unique strength and innovation of our consortium in which leaders in developmental biology team together with engineering and computational experts to dissolve boundaries across these different disciplines.
For example, quantitative information on the topology and dynamics of homologous and heterologous cell-cell interactions (epithelial, mesenchymal, endothelial) along with the compilation of a “pancreas development digital atlas” will allow to better estimate the position where live cells, growth factors, and ECM will be simultaneously deposited during bioprinting. The same applies also for the most critical challenge in organ printing which is the integration of a vascular network. Importantly, a biomimetic approach will enable us to overcome the lack of adult pancreatic cell primary cultures. Ultimately, our approach and methodology can become a paradigm and be extended to create 3D bioprinting platforms of other tissues with direct clinical relevance.