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3D Printing Blood Vessels Without Sacrificial Templates

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Light microscope image of a 3D bioprinted blood vessel
Haitao Cui
Wei Zhu
Lijie Grace Zhang
Managed By
Brian Coblitz
Sr. Licensing Associate (202) 994-4345
Patent Protection

Provisional Patent Application Filed

Using novel bioactive ink for 3D printing, GW researchers create multi-layered vasculature. Large-scale artificial tissue implants for defect reconstruction require vascularization to avoid interior necrosis, but blood vessel printing remains challenging.

Current 3D bioprinting methods for creating vasculature mainly utilize sacrificial templates to fabricate vascular lumen. However, all cases fail to generate multi-scale, multilayer and independent blood vessels that replicate the geometry, complexity, and longevity of human vascularized tissues. We present a non-sacrificial method of in situ biomanufacturing of artificial blood vessels by combining 3D bioprinting with tailored bioinks.

The biomanufacturing process makes use of an extrusion printer with a coaxial nozzle (containing internal and external needles) and a new printable cell-containing bioink (gelatin methacrylate/catechol (GelMA/C)). GelMA/C and smooth muscle cells (SMCs) flow through an external needle, while crosslinking solution Pluronic F127/NaIO3 and endothelial cells (ECs) flow through an internal needle. This forms a self-supporting biomimetic blood vessel with SMCs encircling ECs. This process yields a bilayer blood vessel with excellent myogenic and angiogenic properties. In vivo evaluations are ongoing.


  • Manufacturing 3D printed tissue implants with blood vessels


  • Creates multi-scale, multilayer and independent blood vessel
  • Adjustable vessel wall thickness and vessel diameter
  • Vascularization enables viability of larger implants
  • The biomimetic vessels may be printed onto engineered tissue implants