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TEBURU – our latest bioreactor system
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Three‐dimensional tissue cultures are important models for the study of cell‐cell and cell‐matrix interactions, as well as, to investigate tissue repair and reconstruction pathways. Therefore, we designed a reproducible and easy to handle printable bioreactor system (Teburu), that is applicable for different approaches of pathway investigation and targeted tissue repair using human tissue slices as a three‐dimensional cell culture model. Here, we definitively describe Teburu as a controlled environment to reseed a 500‐µm thick decellularized human liver slice using human mesenchymal stroma cells. During a cultivation period of eight days, Teburu, as a semi‐open and low consumption system, was capable to maintain steady pH and oxygenation levels. Its combination with additional modules delivers an applicability for a wide range of tissue engineering approaches under optimal culture conditions.

"Teburu—Open source 3D printable bioreactor for tissue slices as dynamic three‐dimensional cell culture models" was published in Artif Organs. 2019 Jun 18. doi: 10.1111/aor.13518. [Epub ahead of print]. Authors are A. Daneshgar, P. Tang, C. Remde, M. Lommel, S. Moosburner, U. Kertzscher, O. Klein, M. Weinhart, J. Pratschke, I.M. Sauer, and K.H. Hillebrandt.
Two new BIH Charité Junior Clinician Scientists
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Dr. Karl Hillebrandt and Dr. Matthäus Felsenstein successfully applied for the BIH Charité Junior Clinician Scientist Program. Karl Hillebrandt will continue his work on human decellularized liver slices as 3D platform for in vitro models of cholangiocellular carcinoma. Matthäus Felsenstein focusses on derivation of normal pancreatic duct cells from human primary tissue and their stepwise genetic modification in vitro using CRISPR/Cas9 .

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Strategies based on organ decellularization and recellularization
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Transplantation is the only curative treatment option available for patients suffering from end-stage organ failure, improving their quality of life and long-term survival. However, because of organ scarcity, only a small number of these patients actually benefit from transplantation. Alternative treatment options are needed to address this problem. The technique of whole-organ decellularization and recellularization has attracted increasing attention in the last decade. Decellularization includes the removal of all cellular components from an organ, while simultaneously preserving the micro and macro anatomy of the extracellular matrix. These bioscaffolds are subsequently repopulated with patient-derived cells, thus constructing a personalized neo-organ and ideally eliminating the need for immunosuppression. However, crucial problems have not yet been satisfyingly addressed and remain to be resolved, such as organ and cell sources.

In this paper "Strategies based on organ decellularization and recellularization" (Transpl Int. 2019; 32(6):571-585), we focus on the actual state of organ de- and recellularization, as well as the problems and future challenges. Authors are K.H. Hillebrandt, H. Everwien, N. Haep, E. Keshi, J. Pratschke, and I.M. Sauer.
Matters of Activity. Image Space Material
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Prof. I.M. Sauer and Prof. J. Pratschke became principal investigators in the new Cluster of Exzellence Matters of Activity. Image Space Material. This Cluster will explore materials’ own inner activity, which can be discovered as a new source of innovative strategies and mechanisms for rethinking the relationship between the analog and the digital and for designing more sustainable and energy-efficient technologies.
The project’s central vision is to develop images, spaces, and materials as active structures of a new physical and symbolic reality, in which nature and culture intertwine in a novel way. In this context, interdisciplinary research and development of sustainable processes and structures is a key priority in all areas of visual-material character, such as wearables, materials technology, medical technology, logistics, architecture, and robotics. More than 40 disciplines are systematically investigating design strategies for materials and structures that adapt to specific requirements and the environment. The cluster relies on a new role for design within the context of growing diversity and the continuous improvement of materials and forms of visualization in all disciplines.
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Implantation of a Neo Bile Duct in domestic pigs
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European Surgical Research accepted our latest paper entitled "Implantation of a tissue engineered Neo Bile Duct in domestic pigs" for publication. Authors are B. Struecker, K. Hillebrandt, N. Raschzok, K. Jöhrens, A. Butter, P. Tang, A. Andreou, H. Napierala, D. Polenz, A. Reutzel-Selke, T. Denecke, J. Pratschke, and I.M Sauer.

Extrahepatic bile duct injuries remain severe complications during cholecystectomy and often require reconstruction by bilioenteric anastomosis (i.e. hepatico-jejunostomy), which comes along with further long-term complications (e.g. recurring ascending cholangitis, secondary biliary cirrhosis). Furthermore, in case of inherent extrahepatic biliary atresia or during liver transplant artificial or engineered bile ducts could enable novel surgical strategies without the need for hepatico-jejunostomy. We present data on the implantation of in vitro generated Neo Bile Ducts in five domestic pigs. Neo Bile Ducts were engineered through decellularization of allogeneic blood vessels and recellularization with autologous cholangiocytes.On postoperative days 0, 1, 7 and 14 blood samples were taken and analyzed (AST, ALT, Bilirubin, Alkaline Phosphatase, Creatinine and Leukocytes). An magnetic resonance cholangiography was performed on postoperative day 14 with one pig. 14 days after implantation pigs were sacrificed and bile ducts were explanted. All pigs survived the complete study period without severe complications. None of the pigs showed signs of biliary leakage or peritonitis. Neo Bile Ducts were infiltrated by neutrophils and neo-angiogenesis was observed around and into the implanted tissue. Whether the presented technique enables the long-term replacement of native bile ducts has to be further evaluated.
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microRNAs in liver tissue engineering
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Our paper "microRNAs in liver tissue engineering - New promises for failing organs"was accepted for publication in Advanced Drug Delivery Reviews (IF: 15.038). Authors are Nathanael Raschzok, Hannes Sallmon, Johann Pratschke and Igor M. Sauer.

miRNA-based technologies provide attractive tools for several liver tissue engineering approaches. Herein, we review the current state of miRNA applications in liver tissue engineering. Several miRNAs have been implicated in hepatic disease and proper hepatocyte function. However, the clinical translation of these findings into tissue engineering has just begun. miRNAs have been successfully used to induce proliferation of mature hepatocytes and improve the differentiation of hepatic precursor cells. Nonetheless, miRNA-based approaches beyond cell generation have not yet entered preclinical or clinical investigations. Moreover, miRNA-based concepts for the biliary tree have yet to be developed. Further research on miRNA based modifications, however, holds the promise of enabling significant improvements to liver tissue engineering approaches due to their ability to regulate and fine-tune all biological processes relevant to hepatic tissue engineering, such as proliferation, differentiation, growth, and cell function.
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