Development of Novel Biofabrication Technology for Layering Sheet-Like Constructs that Recapitulate the Extracellular Matrix; Divisions Amongst Radical Life Extension's Advocates and Critics

Collier, Tara, School of Engineering and Applied Science, University of Virginia
Norton, Peter, EN-Engineering and Society, University of Virginia
Highley, Chris, EN-Biomed Engr Dept, University of Virginia

In fields such as tissue engineering and regenerative medicine, breakthroughs hold the promise of extending human lifespans.

A novel biofabrication technique consisting of a two-part hardware system that supports the layering of electrospun fiber sheets was developed in order to more accurately model the extracellular matrix (ECM) for in vitro studies. When the environment in which studies are being performed in labs mimics physiological milieus, the results of such studies have greater impact on the fields of tissue engineering and regenerative medicine. The hardware models were designed in Autodesk Fusion 360 and 3D printed by a Formlabs 2 Printer using Formlabs clear photopolymer. The first system supports cyclic olefin copolymer (COC) membranes as fibers are electrospun on top of them and they are laser cut into four sheets. The system breaks apart into four pieces that interlock with the second hardware system used for stacking the individual layers of electrospun fibers in order to create three dimensional scaffolds. The second system allows for the perfusion of fluid that hydrates the scaffolds. The hardware was made without specific applications in mind so that it could be used in a variety of studies.

Citing recent breakthroughs and promising developments in medicine, proponents of radical life extension (RLE) contend that human lifespans can and should be extended by decades or more. However, critics of RLE advocates contend that the medical possibilities have been exaggerated, that RLE would entail problems of sustainability, and that efforts to pursue it divert research funds and healthcare capacity from far more urgent health needs. RLE advocates and critics both must consider the ethical, social, financial, environmental, and other implications of RLE on a large scale.

BS (Bachelor of Science)
electrospinning, biofabrication, extracellular matrix, radical life extension

School of Engineering and Applied Science
Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Engineering
Technical Advisor: Christopher Highley
STS Advisor: Peter Norton

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