3D printed vascular tissues from Harvard Medical School contain algae that produce oxygen, creating a more productive environment.


  • Sustainable
  • Reduced cost


  • Medical implants
  • Food manufacturing

UN Sustainable Development Goals Addressed

  • Goal 3: Good Health & Wellbeing


  • Algae (C. reinhardtii)

The Challenge

There is a growing need for artificial tissues to replace natural ones that have suffered from disease or decay. One option is to use use a bioink, a 3D-printed structure that contains living cells, biomaterials, and other growth supplements. It mimics the extracellular matrix of the desired tissue and supports the growth of the embedded cells. However, a major limitation is the ability to deliver fresh oxygen to the cells in order to sustain survival and ensure growth. One option is to use oxygen-releasing biomaterials, but these only work for short periods of time and can release harmful byproducts. Therefore, developing a method that enables sustained release of oxygen from within engineered tissue is critical.

Innovation Details

The 3D-bioprinted vascularized tissue contains algae and human liver-derived cells. The algae (C. reinhardtii), was bioprinted into a bioink composed mostly of cellulose. This was then combined with human liver-derived cells to form a new bioink. The algae released oxygen as a byproduct of , which was used by the human cells to grow and produce liver-specific s. Then, the cellulase enzyme was injected to degrade the cellulose-based bioink, leaving behind tiny microchannels. These channels were filled with human vascular cells to create vascular networks in the liver-like tissue, providing a network through which oxygen can flow to cells.