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Printed synthetic, cellular and hybrid tissues

New techniques for tissue engineering

We discovered a process by which aqueous droplets can be connected by means of lipid bilayers to form 3D networks. Protein pores incorporated into the bilayers allow the droplets to communicate with each other and the environment. In the area of synthetic biology, considerable effort has been devoted to the preparation of artificial cells.


By contrast, assemblies of interacting compartments, which act as tissues, have been hardly explored. Droplet networks are an advance in this direction. By using engineered pores in the interface bilayers, we have produced droplet networks that form batteries, detect light and rectify electrical signals.


Recently, we have built more extensive networks by 3D printing to form synthetic tissues that conduct signals along neuron-like pathways or fold to assume altered shapes. The ability to subject synthetic tissues to external control, e.g. with light or magnetism, is an active interest.


Further, the printing technology has been adapted to pattern living cells in three-dimensional patterns, enabling the fabrication of hybrid synthetic and cellular materials.

Selected papers

Villar, G., Graham, A.D. and Bayley, H. A tissue-like printed material. Science 340, 48-52 (2013). DOI: 10.1126/science.1229495


Zhou, L., Wolfes, A.C., Li, Y., Chen, D.C.W., Ko, H., Szele, F.G. and Bayley, H. Lipid bilayer supported 3D printing of human cerebral cortex cells reveals developmental interactions. Advanced Materials 32, e2002183 (2020). DOI: 10.1002/adma.202002183


Hoskin, C.E.G., Restrepo-Schild, V., Camallonga, J.V. and Bayley, H. Parallel transmission in a synthetic nerve. Nature Chemistry 14, 650-657 (2022). doi: 10.1038/s41557-022-00916-1



Bayley, H., Cazimoglu, I. and Hoskin, C. Synthetic tissues. Emerging Topics in Life Sciences 3, 615-622 (2019).

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