Electrobiofabrication: electrically-based fabrication with biologically-derived materials.

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TitleElectrobiofabrication: electrically-based fabrication with biologically-derived materials.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2019
AuthorsLi, J, Wu, S, Kim, E, Yan, K, Liu, H, Liu, C, Dong, H, Qu, X, Shi, X, Shen, J, Bentley, WE, Payne, GF
Date Published2019 Feb 13

While conventional materials fabrication methods focus on form and strength to achieve function, the fabrication of materials systems for emerging life science applications will need to satisfy a more subtle set of requirements. A common goal for biofabrication is to recapitulate complex biological contexts (e.g., tissue) for applications that range from animal-on-a-chip to regenerative medicine. In these cases, the materials systems will need to: (i) present appropriate surface functionalities over a hierarchy of length scales (e.g., molecular features that enable cell adhesion and topographical features that guide differentiation); (ii) provide a suite of mechanobiological cues that promote the emergence of native-like tissue form and function; and (iii) organize structure to control cellular ingress and molecular transport to enable the development of an interconnected cellular community that is engaged in cell signaling. And these requirements will not likely be static but vary over time and space which will require capabilities for the material systems to dynamically respond, adapt, heal and reconfigure. Here, we review recent advances in the use of electrically-based fabrication methods to build materials systems from biological macromolecules (e.g., chitosan, alginate, collagen and silk). Electrical signals are especially convenient for fabrication because they can be controllably imposed to promote the electrophoresis, alignment, self-assembly and functionalization of macromolecules to generate hierarchically organized material systems. Importantly, this electrically-based fabrication with biologically-derived materials (i.e., electrobiofabrication) is complementary to existing methods (photolithographic and printing) and enables access to the biotechnology toolbox (e.g., enzymatic-assembly and protein engineering, and gene expression) to offer exquisite control of structure and function. We envision that electrobiofabrication will emerge as an important platform technology for organizing soft matter into dynamic material systems that mimic biology's complexity of structure and versatility of function.

Alternate JournalBiofabrication
PubMed ID30759423