Thrust I Modeling and Computer-Aided-Design of Biofabrication Processes

Team Members: Drs. Qi Wang (Team Leader; USC), Brian Canada (USC Beaufort), Xiaofeng Yang (USC), Xinfeng Liu (USC), Yi Sun (USC), Thomas Trusk (MUSC) and Xiqiang Zheng (Voorhees College).
Aim: Development of productive biofabrication procedures can be aided by use of tools that predict the outcomes for specific biofabrication strategies. Similarly, assessing the success of biofabrication products can be assisted by the use of computational tools that model biomechanical properties of the resulting construct. The aims of this thrust are to develop computational tools and procedures that assist front-end design strategies and aid back-end assessment of biofabrication constructs.


Thrust II Pre-Processing / Bioink Design

Team Members: Drs. Chris Drake and Rick Visconti (Co-Team Leaders; MUSC)
Aim: A blood vessel is composed of multiple types of cells with specialized functions. The ‘bioink’ employed in our bioprinting strategy will be composed of mixtures of these cell types in formulations designed to enhance their self assembly into appropriate multicellular structures that exhibit cellular and biomechanical properties natural for blood vessels. This thrust aims to develop optimized methods for preparing the cellular bioink, including the use of autologous cell sources such as adipose tissue.


Thrust III Biomechanical Testing of Biofabrication Constructs

Team Members: Drs. Mike Sutton (Team Leader; USC), Susan Lessner (USC) and Tarek Shazly (USC)
Aim: Biofabricated constructs must display desirable biomechanical properties consistent with those of natural tissues. This thrust is engaged in performing quantitative analyses that characterize biomechanical properties of biofabrication constructs.


Thrust IV Processing & Assembly / Bioprinters

Team Members: Drs. Mike Yost (Team Leader; MUSC), Thomas Trusk (MUSC), and Ying Mei (Clemson-MUSC Bioengineering).
Aim: Our biofabrication strategy involves the use of bioprinting to create 3-dimensional vascular constructs. This thrust is focused on making bioprinting a reality through the development and operation of a bioprinter capable of printing these structures. Towards this end we have helped create the SC BioPrinter (aka, “Palmetto Printer”), which was designed and manufactured in SC. The Palmetto Printer is now operational and is being used to dispense bioink in 3D configurations.


Thrust V Post-Processing / Maturation

Team Members: Drs. Scott Argraves (Team Leader; MUSC), Waleed Twal (MUSC), Kelley Argraves (MUSC) and Jay Potts (USC).
Aim: The biofabrication process can be aided by the use of agents that naturally promote blood vessel maturation. This thrust aims to identify and test such natural agents in the biofabrication process. Agents already known to promote maturation are being prioritized for testing. Additionally, studies are being conducted to identify new agents that accelerate maturation events associated with normal tissue development, e.g., the formation of elastin fibers. These agents (“maturogens”) will be evaluated for their ability to enhance the biofabrication process.