BRIGHTER project near completing printing device for human skin

Text: Mycronic

Photo: Mycronic

BRIGHTER is an EU-financed research project that aims to develop a novel bioprinting technology that will be used to produce tissue samples that mimic biological tissue with embedded three-dimensional structures.

“We are close to completing our proof of concept” explains Gustaf Mårtensson, who leads the project at Mycronic together with a team of specialists at pattern generation.

The BRIGHTER project has sought to develop bioprinting technologies able to produce tissue. The viability of a cell depends crucially on the mechanical, chemical and geometric properties of its environment, and so the process of bioprinting is an extraordinarily precise endeavor.

Creating such an environment requires liquids or gels that solidify precisely where you illuminate them with a focused laser beam. However, these materials must not be harmful to the cells and the whole process has to happen extremely quickly.

Existing bioprinting methods have intrinsic limitations when attempting to create tissue due to limitations in printing speed and resolution, which can compromise cell viability and limit true biological cell structure mimicry. 

By incorporating Mycronic’s high resolution, high-speed, lithographic semiconductor printing technology, which uses light to print tiny patterns on silicon and is used in its advanced mask writers, the BRIGHTER project has developed a new technology making high resolution compatible with high throughput in the bioprinting process.

The process works in a similar way to lithography in semiconductor technology. Instead of the semiconductor and the photosensitive layer, which is illuminated by a mask, a hydrogel with photosensitive molecules is used. The hydrogel is exposed to a thin laser light sheet which leads to the formation of branched chain structures (polymers) that serve as a matrix for colonization by living cells.

Through this process, the BRIGHTER project’s technology is able to manufacture cell-laden 3D constructs to resemble the complexity of human tissues.

The resulting bio-printed tissue, in turn, can be used in regenerative medicine and drug testing. For instance, a patient with a bladder disease can be treated by using engineered bladder tissues to rebuild the damaged organ. The technology can also potentially be applied to bone, skin, cartilage and muscle tissue.

The current project stage, which concludes at the end of the year, has developed a proof of concept consisting of a bioprinting device that produces viable engineered vascularized skin tissue. The BRIGHTER printing device will not just be able to produce epidermis, but also skin-specific structures, such as hair follicles and sweat glands, which are a huge unmet need and presents an interesting business opportunity.

“This opens opportunities such as decreasing animal testing for pharmaceuticals. The next stage, beginning in October, will be developing printing technologies for other types of tissue, such as cornea and gut” says Gustaf.


Text: Mycronic

Photo: Mycronic

Published: 20 April 2022

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