Tissue engineering has long held promise for building new organs to
replace damaged livers, blood vessels and other body parts. However, one
major obstacle is getting cells grown in a lab dish to form 3-D shapes
instead of flat layers.
Researchers at the MIT-Harvard Division of Health Sciences and
Technology (HST) have come up with a new way to overcome that challenge,
by encapsulating living cells in cubes and arranging them into 3-D
structures, just as a child would construct buildings out of blocks.
The new technique, dubbed “micromasonry,” employs a gel-like material
that acts like concrete, binding the cell “bricks” together as it
hardens. Ali Khademhosseini, assistant professor of HST, and former HST
postdoctoral associate Javier Gomez Fernandez describe the work in a
paper published online in the journal Advanced Materials.