Research project: Connecting vascular structures

The aim of the research project "Perfusion Adapter: Connecting Vascular Structures" currently running at the KUZ is the development of an adapter technology with which both artificial blood vessel structures for cell cultivation in 3D tissue engineering and natural blood vessels in transplantation medicine can be coupled to external perfusion systems. The adapter technology is developed under medical, functional and technological aspects and realized by means of micro-injection technology.

The process of "tissue engineering" (tissue construction), as a subfield of regenerative medicine, offers the possibility of regenerating or replacing diseased tissue of patients through artificial production of biological tissue structures. Using a combination of processes with additive manufacturing technologies, so-called biofabrication can even be used to produce three-dimensional tissue structures. In the future, this should make it possible to manufacture organ components and even print complete organs.

For 3D tissue engineering, perfusion aids in the form of permeable hollow fibers must be integrated to ensure sufficient cell cultivation within the 3D support structure. These ensure that the oxygen-rich nutrient solution required for cell cultivation penetrates the interior of the 3D support structure and can circulate sufficiently.

Challenges of optimal connection

Due to their small dimensions and individual mechanical properties, the hollow fibers are not compatible with common connecting elements. Therefore, to securely couple the hollow fibers to external perfusion systems, a multi-part micro-adapter technology is being developed to enable safe handling of the entire system. Due to their low component weight and dimensions, these micro-adapters will be realized for production by micro-injection molding, in particular on the two-stage piston injection molding machine "formicaPLAST" developed at the KUZ. For this purpose, the adapter solutions have to be designed with regard to functional as well as process-related and medical technology features. Due to the minimal component dimensions, a coupling aid, i.e. joining or separating device, will continue to be developed and provided. After the coupling for artificial perfusion structures is qualified for 3D tissue engineering, the application of the adapter technology for the gentle and detachable coupling of natural blood vessels in transplantation medicine (normothermic and hypothermic machine perfusion systems) for recipients of donor organs will continue to be transferred and qualified. The project is carried out in close knowledge exchange with FILK - Research Institute for Leather and Plastic Sheeting in Freiberg, which is intensively researching the production of 3D support structures and perfusion aids from collagen in 3D tissue engineering.

Duration: 11/2020 - 04/2023, Funding source: BMWi, FKZ: 49MF200097


Tino Jacob
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