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Sci Rep. 2016 Jun 27;6:28714. doi: 10.1038/srep28714.

Three-dimensional bioprinting using self-assembling scalable scaffold-free "tissue strands" as a new bioink.

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Harvard Medical School, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, USA.
The Center for Engineering in Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA, USA.
Engineering Science and Mechanics Department, The Pennsylvania State University, State College, PA, USA.
Huck Institute of Life Sciences, The Pennsylvania State University, State College, PA, USA.
Industrial and Manufacturing Systems Engineering, Iowa State University, Ames, IA, USA.
Department of Orthopaedics and Rehabilitation, The University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA, USA.


Recent advances in bioprinting have granted tissue engineers the ability to assemble biomaterials, cells, and signaling molecules into anatomically relevant functional tissues or organ parts. Scaffold-free fabrication has recently attracted a great deal of interest due to the ability to recapitulate tissue biology by using self-assembly, which mimics the embryonic development process. Despite several attempts, bioprinting of scale-up tissues at clinically-relevant dimensions with closely recapitulated tissue biology and functionality is still a major roadblock. Here, we fabricate and engineer scaffold-free scalable tissue strands as a novel bioink material for robotic-assisted bioprinting technologies. Compare to 400 μm-thick tissue spheroids bioprinted in a liquid delivery medium into confining molds, near 8 cm-long tissue strands with rapid fusion and self-assemble capabilities are bioprinted in solid form for the first time without any need for a scaffold or a mold support or a liquid delivery medium, and facilitated native-like scale-up tissues. The prominent approach has been verified using cartilage strands as building units to bioprint articular cartilage tissue.

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