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3D bioprinting of pancreatic tissue for biomedical research

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - Pan3DP (3D bioprinting of pancreatic tissue for biomedical research)

Reporting period: 2019-10-01 to 2021-03-31

Pan3DP is a Horizon 2020 FET-Open project aimed at developing a new bioprinting technology for generating 3D pancreatic tissue units that allow sustained cell viability, expansion and functional differentiation ex vivo. Engineering three-dimensional (3D) tissue models, which accurately mimic the native organ, has great potential in biomedical applications, by providing powerful platforms for (i) studying tissue development and physiology, (ii) modeling diseases, (iii) drug screening and toxicological studies, and (iv) in the long-run for curing diseases.

To achieve these long-term goals, within the duration of the Pan3DP project we have targeted three main objectives that are relevant, specific, measurable, and achievable:
Aim 1. To expand and unify the knowledge of the 3D architecture of the developing pancreas
Aim 2. To develop bioprinting technology for engineering vascularized pancreatic tissue units
Aim 3. To establish conditions for in vitro differentiation of the bioprinted pancreatic tissue

The Pan3DP ambitious project is carried out by a multi-disciplinary European consortium and organized into five work-packages (WPs) with a planned duration of 48 months.

The main tasks of the WPs are:
WP1. Collecting systematic information on the 3D organization and gene expression of the embryonic pancreas, its microenvironment and vasculature
WP2. Computational analysis to generate a digital atlas of the embryonic pancreas and to design the “blueprint” for organ bioprinting
WP3. Generation of the process plan for pancreatic tissue bioprinting
WP4. Optimization of bioprinting process to ensure functionality of pancreatic tissue
WP5. Management and coordination of the project
The Pan3DP project has started on the 1.10.2018 and continues until 31.09.2022.
During the first 30 months of the project, all five WPs have been running.
Overall, the project and all WPs are progressing well with a good collaboration between the involved parties and a structured means of working, which is ensuring successful delivery of the planned results.
Most of the work during the first reporting period of the Pan3DP project focused on collecting systematic information on the 3D organization and gene expression of the embryonic pancreas, its microenvironment and vasculature (WP1; Milestones (M) 1, 2). All biological information collected in WP1 has been integrated to generate a digital 3D atlas of the embryonic pancreas (WP2; M3) and the image datasets processed into CAD files for developing the bioprinting approach.
During the second reporting period of the Pan3DP project, the digital 3D atlas of the embryonic pancreas (WP1, WP2; M3) has been made publicly available and an accompanying manuscript has been deposited in bioRxiv and submitted for publication. In parallel, most of the efforts of the consortium have been concentrated on establishing bioprinting (WP3; M5, M6) conditions for pancreatic tissue structures and the characterization of the obtained structures (WP4; M7, M8).
Management and dissemination are also proceeding according to plan. Since very early in the project, we elaborated a Plan for communication, dissemination and exploitation of the project results, designed the graphic identity of the project, and launched the website and social media tools to be used to convey the results and other messages to the targeted audiences identified in the communication plan. Our dissemination activities related to the project have included talks and posters presented at several conferences during the first and second reporting periods of the project, one consortium scientific publication and six publications from individual partners, the release of the digital embryonic pancreas atlas and the organization of the first project workshop in London, UK. We also elaborated a Data Management Plan to ensure an effective coordination and management of both research and technical activities and overall progress of the project.
Overall, during the first and second reporting periods of the Pan3DP project, 19 deliverables and 5 associated milestones have been achieved. The innovative nature of the Pan3DP work and the endpoint goal of generating a 3D pancreatic organ model will result in many exploitable results. This exploratory research in the emerging technological field of bioprinting will pave the way towards new technological possibilities of growing functional tissues and organs in a laboratory. We expect that the knowledge and paradigms generated by our research project will not only drive major technological advances in tissue-engineering and bioprinting but will also open radically new possibilities in medicine, allowing to study pancreatic diseases, such as diabetes or pancreatic cancer, ex vivo in fabricated tissue, to develop new drugs, and, possibly to facilitate the replacement of injured or diseased pancreatic tissue.
Logo of the Pan3DP consortium