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Cellular Micro-Masonry System to Build Highly Defined 3D Biological Structures

Creates Precise Multicellular 3D Structures Needed for Experiments in Diverse Research Areas

This micro-biofabrication system combines computer vision, robotics, micromanipulation tools, and a novel culture medium to enable the creation of optimized 3D cellular structures. A level of exquisite detail exists in the intricate pattern and spatial structure of cells found in developing tissue. Micromanipulation tools allow precise translation and placement of single cells. However, available bioprinting systems cannot employ these tools to build highly intricate multicellular 3D structures in a cell-by-cell manner. They cannot hold the deposited cells in place while building structures without creating misconfigured layers or dispersed single cells. Researchers in many fields need effectively perfect multicellular 3D structures to understand topics like embryonic development, function-form relationships, immune signaling, and drug screening for efficacy and toxicity.

Researchers at the University of Florida have developed a cellular micro-masonry system that enables the microfabrication of highly intricate 3D cell structures. A 3D printing culture medium supports cellular structures as they are built one cell at a time using micromanipulation techniques and real-time imaging.



A bioprinting system that builds perfect 3D structures cell by cell



  • Holds deposited cells in place, allowing one to build precise multicellular structures
  • Creates various cell and tissue models, providing opportunity for drug testing and toxicity screening


This cellular micro-masonry system integrates a cell translation system, an imaging system, and a 3D culture medium. The culture medium that supports the 3D construction of cells is a liquid-like solid made from jammed microgels swollen in liquid growth media. Through micromanipulation and cell aspiration performed within this culture medium, the system retrieves dispersed cells one at a time, translates them to the building area, and places them at the desired location in 3D space. The system is mounted on a fast-scanning multi-photon microscope to enable real-time tracking of cells, path corrections, and structural refinements during the building process.

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