Biofabrication is the use of automated 3D-printing-processes for the generation of constructs in which cells and materials are positioned simultaneously in a tissue like structure. This approach holds the promise for a standardized generation of so far unreached functional tissue models that would be of tremendous value for replacement of animal models, for pharma- and cancer research and as regenerative therapeutical option. Progress in this young field of research is at the moment primarily hindered by the lack of suitable cytocompatible and printable materials, so-called bioinks, which should not only guarantee cell survival during printing but also positively influence and ideally even direct cellular behavior after printing. Also the insufficient knowledge about the influence of printing process parameters on cellular behavior is hindering a more rapid advancement of the field.
Content of the SFB/TRR 225 is the exploration of these fundamentals of biofabrication and its systematic exploitation with the aim and vision to generate functional human tissue models (12-year perspective). To achieve this, the SFB/TRR 225 shall, based on the existing expertise on biofabrication at the three locations and supported by complementary support of the State of Bavaria (Bavarian Polymer Institute), generate a sustainable competence center with an internationally leading role.
The SFB/TRR 225 is designed for 12 years, with an initial 4 years focus on the development of materials and methods as well as the exploration of cellular behavior during and after the printing process. Already established bioinks shall in addition be used for the generation of first tissue models that shall gradually be improved with the new developments of the consortium and serve as benchmark for the newly developed tissue models. For the first funding period the proposal is structured in the three project areas “bioinks” (area A), “processes and methods” (area B) and “biofabricated models” (area C). Based on these developments, selected bioinks and technologies shall in the subsequent funding periods be further developed and used for the biofabrication and characterization of tissue models which shall eventually be validated with regards to their biological function in vitro and in vivo.
The three locations of this SFB/TRR initiative have formed the basis for this application by installment of the first two biofabrication study programs and the first two professor positions for biofabrication. With their complementary emphases they thus represent a nationally unique set of requirements that enables to conduct the initiative.