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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/Y015339/1
Title: 3D Bioprinting Tissues with Multiscale Vasculature
Principal Investigator: Armstrong, Dr JP
Other Investigators:
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Tsinghua University
Department: Bristol Medical School
Organisation: University of Bristol
Scheme: Overseas Travel Grants (OTGS)
Starts: 01 May 2024 Ends: 31 October 2024 Value (£): 5,329
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Biomaterials Tissue engineering
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Related Grants:
Panel History:  
Summary on Grant Application Form

We are now able to grow lots of different types of tissues in the laboratory, such as bone, muscle, heart, and skin. The intention is that these "engineered tissues" can be used either as artificial living grafts to treat patients with tissue damage, or to study how human tissues grow, become diseased, or respond to drugs.

However, these applications are limited by our inability to grow tissues with lifelike blood vessels (vasculature). Human tissues are nourished by a vast, interconnected network of blood vessels of all different sizes, from large arteries/veins (up to 20 millimetres, internal diameter) to intricate capillaries (down to 4 micrometres, internal diameter). Yet there is currently no method capable of recreating blood vessels across these length scales within an artificial tissue. This causes two important problems: (i) it restricts the size of the tissue grafts that we can grow, and (ii) prevents us from using our tissue models to effectively study mechanisms of health, disease, and drug delivery that involve lifelike vasculature.

Dr James Armstrong (specialism in tissue engineering) worked closely with Dr Liliang Ouyang (specialism in bioprinting) at Imperial College London between 2017-2020, where we used 3D bioprinting to grow artificial blood vessels. In particular, we developed a ground-breaking method for generating complex, interconnected channels with the inner walls efficiently covered with endothelial cells (one of the important cell types that lines blood vessels). This Overseas Travel Grant will enable us to resume this collaborative work in our new posts at the University of Bristol and Tsinghua University, respectively. In particular, this will fund two researchers from the Armstrong Group to visit Tsinghua University for a three-week period of two-way knowledge exchange. The Ouyang Group will deliver training in three new bioprinting methods, while in turn, receiving training in how to grow more biologically-complex blood vessels. This training will upskill both teams, enable us to continue this collaborative work beyond the lifetime of the award, and pursue further grant funding to consolidate this overseas partnership.

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Organisation Website: http://www.bris.ac.uk