Obesity is an emerging, global, huge health problem that affects roughly a third of the population and costs an estimated $209.7 billion dollars per year in the United States alone. Obesity is characterized by excess accumulation of adipose tissue (fat) and is a major risk factor for various diseases such as; cardiovascular disease, diabetes T2DM, osteoarthritis and some cancers. There is no universal treatment for obesity and 99% of drugs failed to treat obesity. There is a lack of understanding of mechanism of the obesity and animal models used for study are not relevant for human situation.
There is emerging need for human adipose tissue models with long term viability and functionality to enable study of the mechanism of obesity, development of treatments and screen new drugs to cure obesity. One of the reasons for lack of the models is difficulty to culture mature adipocytes (fat cells) and reproduce correct microenvironment of native adipose tissue in vitro which requires presence and interactions with endothelial cells. Scientists have been evaluating 3-dimensional (3D) adipocyte spheroids, biomaterial-based 3D culture and microfluidic devices. None of them have resulted in fully functional adipose tissue model. 3D bioprinting is an emerging technology platform which enables exact positioning of multiple cells in 3D space and thus reproducing architecture of native tissue. In this collaborative project we aim to develop the model of living adipose tissue based on patient´s lipoaspirate and perfusion system which will enable culturing and studying fully functional human adipose tissue. We will use a channeled LEAF inspired construct which can be endothelialized to overcome size limitations due to oxygen diffusion. The LEAF construct composed of human adipose and endothelial cells in nanocellulose hydrogel will be placed in perfusion bioreactor. The living adipose tissue model will be evaluated with selected customer to study obesity and screen drugs.