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Marine-Compatible Bioinks for Extrusion-based Bioprinting of 3D Cellular Constructs

Project type

Quantitative Marine Biotechnology Research


January 2022 - May 2022


Virginia Commonwealth University


Lead Researcher

The culture and maintenance of coral cells has been a challenge in recent years, especially with the pressing need for in-depth biological understanding associated with the global decline of coral reefs worldwide. Researchers wishing to study coral cellular functions, cytotoxicity and immunology have had to rely on aquaculture or field organism collections.

Recognizing the potential of hydrogels for coral cell encapsulation, inspired by successful applications in marine sponges, we embarked on developing robust coral cell cultures using extrusion-based 3D bioprinting technology. Our project involved a comprehensive literature review, evaluation of existing cell encapsulation models, and rigorous testing of various methods.

We successfully identified the most effective techniques and integrated them to establish novel procedures for prolonged coral cell encapsulation in hydrogels. Through the synthesis of three bioinks with varying concentrations of gelling agents, we examined printability, cell viability, sterility, and overall tissue integrity and longevity.

To ensure standardized results, we focused on cells from a specific genotype of the scleractinian coral, Pocillopora acuta. Our project laid the foundation for further in vitro research, enabling the study of coral wound healing, symbiosis, calcification, and bleaching.

By completing this project, we contributed to advancing the field of coral research, enhancing our understanding of coral ecosystems, and promoting their preservation.

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