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JDRF is committed to the development of a functional cure for T1D through beta cell replacement therapies that restore glycemic control and eliminate the need for exogenous insulin administration. Pancreatic islet transplantation has been efficacious in improving metabolic control, preventing severe hypoglycemia, and improving quality of life in patients with medically unstable T1D. However, the use of chronic systemic immune suppression and reliability on organ donors preclude its application to a broader T1D population. Significant progress has been achieved in the development of alternative renewable sources of insulin producing cells from human stem cells and porcine islets and strategies to deliver these cells and protect them from the recipient’s immune response. One key development that could accelerate the translation of cell therapies into the clinical management of T1D and the commercialization of these combination products is the establishment of reproducible processes for integrating cells, biomaterials, and other components into complex engineered tissue constructs for implantation which are amenable to large scale manufacturing.
3D bioprinting is at the cutting edge of the field of regenerative medicine and at the forefront of the intersection between tissue engineering and biofabrication. By employing and adapting methods used in traditional 3D printing to combine cells, growth factors, and biomaterials into defined structures, 3D bioprinting enables the fabrication of tissues that can be used as in vitro models for research or therapeutic products to treat disease. This technology can drastically reduce the variability of tissue engineered products by allowing the precise and reproducible integration of various components in 3D space. Rational design of such constructs could ensure optimal cell survival and integration with the host upon implantation. Moreover, using these advanced methods of biofabrication can enable automated scaled up production of these constructs thus drastically reducing costs. All of these attributes make 3D bioprinting an attractive approach for fabrication of therapeutic products. Therefore, JDRF wishes to support research on the rational design and fabrication of engineered tissue constructs via 3D bioprinting that ensure optimal islet survival and integration with the host upon transplantation and lead to long-term graft function.