Sculpting tissue scaffolds with embedded 3-D vasculature
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Vasculature plays a critical role in orchestrating exchange of nutrients, oxygen, and waste throughout 3-D space to satisfy metabolic needs, but the inability to replicate these branched networks inside biomaterial scaffolds poses one of the greatest obstacles to manufacturing organ-size engineered tissues. We have developed a novel method to address this need by harnessing electrostatic discharge phenomena to embed branched 3-D microvascular networks inside plastic substrates. Although the networks are capable of supporting flow, however, the internal shear stresses are higher than would be desirable for cell culture. Here we report new approaches that allow us to overcome these limitations.