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The origami-inspired structure folds around the fabricated tissue, allowing the insertion of sensors into precisely predefined locations.

By Pesach Benson, TPS

While three-dimensional bioprinting is revolutionizing the ability of scientists to engineer human tissue and develop personalized treatment, one challenge has vexed researchers.

Sensors providing feedback about inner cells could not be embedded because they break beneath the printer head.

However, Israeli researchers solved the problem by turning to the ancient Japanese art of origami. This art transforms flat sheets of paper into a sculpture through the use of folding techniques.

Rather than bioprint the tissue over the sensors, a team of Tel Aviv University researchers came up with an approach they called the Multi-Sensor Origami Platform (MSOP).

The origami-inspired structure folds around the fabricated tissue, allowing the insertion of sensors into precisely predefined locations.

Using Computer Aided Design (CAD) software, the team designed a multi-sensing structure inspired by origami. This structure is tailored to specific tissue models and incorporates various sensors to monitor the electrical activity or resistance of cells at precise locations within the tissue.

The physical structure, based on the CAD model, is then folded around the bioprinted tissue, ensuring that each sensor is placed accurately.

The effectiveness of the MSOP was demonstrated on 3D-bioprinted brain tissue, where the sensors successfully recorded neuronal electrical activity.

The system’s versatility is a key feature, allowing for the placement of any number and type of sensors in any position within various 3D-bio printed tissue models, as well as in lab-grown tissues like brain organoids, which simulate the human brain.

“For experiments with bioprinted brain tissue, we demonstrated an additional advantage of our platform: the option for adding a layer that simulates the natural blood-brain barrier, or BBB – a cell layer protecting the brain from undesirable substances carried in the blood, which unfortunately also blocks certain medications intended for brain diseases, explained Professor Ben Maoz, one of the researchers.

“The layer we add consists of human BBB cells, enabling us to measure their electrical resistance which indicates their permeability to various medications.”

The team’s research was recently published in the peer-reviewed Advanced Science journal.

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