David B. Kolesky, Kimberly A. Homan, Mark Skylar-Scott and Jennifer A. Lewis
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This paper highlights the foundational research on multi-material 3-D bioprinting of human tissues, for which the Lewis Bioprinting team at Harvard University was awarded the 2017 Lush Science Prize. The team’s bioprinting platform enables the rapid fabrication of 3-D human tissues that contain all of the essential components found in their in vivo counterparts: cells, vasculature (or other tubular features) and extracellular matrix. The printed 3-D tissues are housed within a customised perfusion system and are subjected to controlled microphysiological environments over long durations (days to months). As exemplars, the team created a thick, stem cell-laden vascularised tissue that was controllably differentiated toward an osteogenic lineage in situ, and a 3-D kidney tissue that recapitulated the proximal tubule, a subunit of the nephron responsible for solute reabsorption. This highly versatile platform for manufacturing 3-D human tissue in vitro opens new avenues for replacing animal models used to develop next-generation therapies, test toxicity and study disease pathology.