Soft tissue injuries such as volumetric muscle loss (VML) are often too large to heal normally on their own, resulting in scar formation and functional deficits. Decellularized extracellular matrix (dECM) scaffolds placed into these wounds have shown the ability to modulate the immune response and drive constructive healing. This provides a potential solution for functional tissue regeneration, however, these acellular dECM scaffolds are challenging to fabricate into complex geometries. 3D bioprinting is uniquely positioned to address this, being able to create patient-specific scaffolds based on clinical 3D imaging data. Here, a process to use freeform reversible embedding of suspended hydrogels (FRESH) 3D bioprinting and computed tomography (CT) imaging to build large volume, patient-specific dECM patches (≈12 × 8 × 2 cm) for implantation into canine VML wound models is developed. Quantitative analysis shows that these dECM patches are dimensionally accurate and conformally adapt to the surface of complex wounds. Finally, this approach is extended to a human VML injury to demonstrate the fabrication of clinically relevant dECM scaffolds with precise control over fiber alignment and micro-architecture. Together these advancements represent a step towards an improved, clinically translatable, patient-specific treatment for soft tissue defects from trauma, tumor resection, and other surgical procedures.
- FRESH 3D bioprinting
- decellularized extracellular matrix
- patient-specific scaffolds
- regenerative medicine
- volumetric muscle loss