In this talk, Assoc. Prof. Dr. Michael Ausserlechner from the Medical University of Innsbruck gave the audience an insight into 3D- Bioprinting, the pitfalls of 2D-cell cultures and animal experiments in terms of translatability and how the techniques developed by his team could further improve replacement methods for animals experiments.
So far, 2D cell culture systems have provided many insights into cell biological mechanisms, but also demonstrated that culturing mammalian cells in monolayers on plastic surfaces has significant impact on metabolism, gene expression and physiological function.
This is also reflected by the pronounced differences of drug responses of 2D-cultured cells and 3D spheroids or tissues. For many decades experiments in animals were therefore the “gold standard” for testing drugs and scientific hypothesis, ignoring the evolutionary distance of about 100 Mio years between e.g. mice and men.
This evolutionary distance and striking differences in many other aspects such as nutrition, hormones, immune system and metabolism questions the relevance of drug testing in animals and are a major reason for the failure of promising drugs in humans. Possible solutions to this problem are organoid / spheroid cultures and bio-manufacturing methods that allow the complex, structured assembly of human, multi-cell type tissue equivalents by 3D bioprinting.
The team of Assoc. Prof. Dr. Michael Ausserlechner at the Medical University Innsbruck on one hand develops stirrer bioreactor systems for the dynamic 3D cultivation of in vitro-assembled or patient-derived tumor spheroids to assess patient-specific drug sensitivities in parallel to clinical treatment.
On the other, they founded Austria’s first 3D bioprinting lab, where they additively manufacture tissue equivalents for skin, tumor tissue, mesothelium and liver in centimeter size to mimic the complexity of human tissue drug response in vitro. These tissue models are composed of multiple cell types, which promotes the spontaneous formation of micro-vessel networks mimicking tissue angiogenesis. The tissue equivalents are printed layer by layer in small, custom-designed acryl/glass chips allowing perfused cultivation and increased parallelization.
By this combined approach, they hope to contribute to the development of novel human tissue equivalents that improve patient therapy, the reliability/translation of scientific results, and open new avenues for the reduction and replacement of animal experiments in scientific research.