CORDIS - EU research results

ENable LIGHT- and synthetic biology-driven volumetric bioprinting of functional human tissues

Project description

3D bioprinting enabling lab-made human tissues

As 3D printing enables the printing of living cells, amazing new horizons emerge in medical research and treatments as printing of lab-made human tissues could be used for biomedical studies and applications. However, the challenge is the existing complexity in capturing morphogenesis processes or functions of organs. For this reason, the EU-funded ENLIGHT project will develop a groundbreaking technological solution of volumetric bioprinting that combines 3D printing with synthetic biology and photonics. It uses visible light tomography to shape the cells or biomaterials into living tissue in ultrafast, multi-material, high-resolution mode while enabling 3D printing of cell functions for the first time. This opens a new era in medical research.


With its ability to print living cells into shapes that resemble human organs, 3D bioprinting has risen exceptional hopes in the quest to produce lab-made human tissues for biomedical applications. However, today’s bioprinting has no means to actively steer cell behaviour and morphogenesis, leaving yet unfulfilled the potential to fully capture organ functions. Challenging this current perspective, ENLIGHT merges synthetic biology, 3D printing, and photonics to develop a radically new technological concept termed optogenetic volumetric bioprinting. This ultra-fast technique uses visible light tomography to sculpt cells and biomaterials into multi-material, high-resolution, centimetre-scale living tissues within less than a minute. Through synthetic biology-inspired strategies, stem cells gain the ability to sense and respond to light patterns provided by the printer and differentiate into selected cell types, essentially permitting for the first time to 3D print cell functions. ENLIGHT targets two breakthroughs: the development of a volumetric bioprinter capable of optogenetic stimulation to instruct cell fate, and its application to build physiological-scale tissues and organoids that replicate human organ-level functionality. As proof-of-concept ENLIGHT will print vascularized endocrine pancreas models that exhibit native-like function. ENLIGHT will introduce a technology for bioprinting a new generation of reliable user-customizable in vitro models to study human biology and pathology. This is urgently needed to advance drug discovery, personalized medicine and to aid the transition to animal-free biomedical research. These results and the actions of industrial, academic and social science consortium partners, will lay the foundation to build market opportunities, leading research and innovation capacity across Europe. On the longer term, ENLIGHT envisions to offer new tools to solve donor organ shortage for transplantation and regenerative medicine.

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Net EU contribution
€ 1 012 410,00
3584 CX Utrecht

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West-Nederland Utrecht Utrecht
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Total cost
€ 1 012 410,00

Participants (7)