Self-assembled tissues have potential to serve both as implantable grafts and as tools for disease modeling and drug screening. For these applications, tissue production must ultimately be scaled-up and automated. Limited technologies exist for precisely manipulating self-assembled tissues, which are fragile early in culture. Here, we presented a method for automatically stacking self-assembled smooth muscle cell rings onto mandrels, using a custom-designed well plate and robotic punch system. Rings then fuse into tissue-engineered blood vessels (TEBVs). This is a critical step toward automating TEBV production that may be applied to other tubular tissues as well.
Keywords: additive manufacturing; biofabrication; self-assembly; tissue manipulation; tissue-engineered blood vessel.