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Cardiovascular Innovation Institute works on tissue printing technology

December 10th, 2007

Imagine a future where someone who loses a piece of skin or even a limb to an accident can go to the hospital for a scan which technicians use to create a new tissue that is a perfect match for his body. When doctors implant the tissue, it hooks itself to existing network of arteries and veins and starts healing right away.

“It sounds like something out of ‘Star Trek’,” says Cardiovascular Innovation Institute scientist Jay Hoying, “but it’s something we are working on now.”

Hoying and CII Scientific Director Stuart Williams just received a $2 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to move this technology closer to reality.

They already have created what they call a “direct-write tissue printing tool” that patterns and organizes tissue grown in the lab for tissue engineering applications, such as implantation.

One of the challenges in tissue implantation is to hook up veins and arteries quickly to establish blood flow to the new tissue.

“We started thinking about how we could organize the new tissue grown in the lab so that it was ready to go immediately upon implantation,” Williams said.

Using powerful computer-aided modeling and advanced cell technology, the team is working on a system that can analyze and re-create the network of small blood vessels that provide blood supply to new tissue grown in the lab.

Good blood flow is necessary for healing and integration of the new tissue with existing healthy tissue.

Tissue engineering, also called regenerative medicine, is an emerging field that includes aspects of biology, medicine and engineering. Engineered tissue uses include transplantation and lab testing of such things as drug metabolism and uptake, substance toxicity and the ability of a virus, bacteria or other micro-organism to cause disease.

CII is a partnership between the University of Louisville and Jewish Hospital that strives to improve quality of life for heart failure patients by building on the success of both organizations’ previous work with ventricular assist devices and artificial hearts.

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