Scaffold-free 3D bioprinted tracheas successfully transplanted into rats

Researchers from Saga University and Nagasaki University in Japan have used a Cyfuse Biomedical Regenova 3D bioprinter for scaffold-free trachea regeneration. Tracheal transplantation was successfully performed in nine rats.


When attempting to biologically engineer a new trachea—or any airway organ, for that matter—stability is key. Think about it this way: if a transplanted, biologically 3D printed ear collapses, it’s a problem for the transplant recipient, but not a life-threatening one. But if a 3D printed trachea collapses, the patient is in big, big trouble, since they lose the ability to breathe.


Scientists differ in their opinions on how to ensure a stable trachea: some bioengineers think scaffolds are the best way to create artificial airway organs, but this approach can pose problems and limitations. That’s why a team of researchers led by Saga University’s Koichi Nakayama—who has previously carried out studies on the 3D bioprinting of liver tissue in rats as part of Nakayama Labs—has used a 3D bioprinter to create scaffold-free artificial tracheas. The researchers say their 3D printed tracheas are strong enough to prevent collapse, and have tested the structures on rats to prove it.


Working with a number of researchers from Nagasaki University, Nakayama wanted to carry out a study in order to develop a new scaffold-free approach for creating an artificial trachea, using some of the most advanced 3D bioprinting technology available. In the study, the team made scaffold-free trachea-like grafts generated from isolated cells in an inbred animal model.

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