Smart Systems

How organ-on-chip systems are helping to shape the future of medicine

Human cells and tissues from the printer – the 3D-Bio-Net project: With the aid of organ-on-chip systems, for example, functionalities and one or more physiological responses of an organ can be replicated in vivo. They thus enable rapid and cost-effective development of drugs and individualized therapies.

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Video: Organ-on-Chip-System

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3D bioprinting for organ-on-chip systems

Organ-on-chip (OoC) systems are becoming increasingly important for medicine. Through them, for example, the functionality and physiological response of one or more aspects of an organ can be replicated in vivo. In particular, OoC systems already play a central role in drug development. By reproducing the smallest functional units of organs using human cells in a physiological microenvironment, the results can be better transferred to humans than is the case with animal models.  OoC systems thus combine the advantages of classical cell assays (human cells) with those of animal models (perfused, living tissues). Due to the high accuracy in mapping physiological reactions or processes, animal experiments can be reduced or even avoided in the future.

An important basis for the use of OoC systems is 3D bioprinting. In this process, living cells are assembled into tissues and (micro)organs in three spatial dimensions.

In the BMBF-funded project (2017-2020) coordinated by the microTEC Südwest e.V. trade association, nine partners from industry and research worked on the development of a 3D bioprinter prototype that enables the printing of functional human tissues with blood vessels, using innovative software concepts. One of the partners was microTEC Südwest member Biofluidix GmbH, which has extensive expertise in nanoliter dispensing for life sciences, pharmaceuticals and diagnostics.

A major highlight during the project was the successful printing of bone constructs that can be used vital and perfused in tissue replacement research. In addition, miniature organ models for the kidney and blood-brain barrier were developed.

The results of the 3D-Bio-Net project are summarized in a YouTube video.

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The digital printing of artificial tissue (3D bio-printing) is developing into a promising technology for the production of living, artificial tissue for research in life sciences as well as for applications in regenerative medicine. First results go far beyond the possibilities of conventional tissue replacement research. The aim of the research project “3D-Bio-Net” is the creation and research as well as practical testing of an open generic platform for the digital printing of artificial tissue. The research project will deal with the complete workflow for the digital production of such tissues. In addition, the use of a special 3D printer for artificial tissue, a software developed as well as various biomaterials and processes in the project will be tested. The project project is coordinated by the cluster microTEC Südwest e.V.

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microTEC Südwest

The non-profit association microTEC Südwest e.V. was founded in 2005 and is the competence and cooperation network for intelligent microsystems technology solutions.

The thematic focus is on health (Smart Health) and production (Smart Production). Further activities address topics such as Smart Home, Smart Energy or the Internet of Things. microTEC Südwest is one of the largest technology networks in Europe.

The members benefit above all from non-material advantages: professional exchange in a room of trust among the members, well-founded information on current topics and trends, emerging contacts and cooperations, insights into research, development and production of the members as well as visibility for the organization and its topics. In addition, there is exclusivity in the participation in the specialist groups, combined with access to the protected area of the specialist groups on the Internet with lectures and information as well as the posting of a profile in the Competence Atlas. In addition, members enjoy discounts on the paid activities of microTEC Südwest – and often also on partner organizations!

microTEC Südwest is managed by a honorary board of directors with leading personalities from industry and science. This board develops the strategy further with the help of the expertise of our honorary group spokespersons. The operational business is carried out by the team in the Freiburg office. The association is completely self-financing: from membership fees, to a large extent from competitive grants and, to a lesser extent, from event fees and services.

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