Published on 13/10/2021
Aston University 3D Printing


•    Aston University research project shortlisted for 3D Printing Industry Awards

•    The MESO-BRAIN project led by the Aston Institute of Photonic Technologies explored 3D printed scaffolds for stem cells for the treatment of neurological diseases

•    Voting closes on 20 October.

A major stem cell research project led by Aston University to develop three-dimensional nanoprinting techniques that can be used to replicate the brain’s neural networks has been shortlisted for an award.

The MESO-BRAIN team, led by Professor Edik Rafailov of the Aston Institute of Photonics, will find out if they have won the 3D Printing Industry Awards at an online event on 21 October.

This research, which began in 2017 and supported by the EU Horizon 2020 Future, Emerging Technology Programme (FET) focused on building a 3D nano-model of the human brain to find out how brain networks form during development and to improve understanding of how these networks are affected in diseases such as Alzheimer’s and brain injuries.

Scientists from a broad range of industry and higher education centres throughout Europe were involved in the €3.3million research project, including stem cell biologists, neuroscientists, photonics experts and physicists.

Professor Rafailov said: “It is fantastic to be shortlisted for such a prestigious award which can further highlight the important work we have been doing here at Aston University over the years in helping with such important work which could improve and prolong hundreds of thousands of lives.”

Dr Eric Hill, the programme director for MSc Stem cells and Regenerative Medicine at Aston University, said the work was 'incredibly exciting' but also very challenging.

“Conditions such as Alzheimer’s present themselves in older patients – so we need to find a way of accelerating the ageing process in our laboratory brains so that we can understand how the diseases work. However, these models will allow us to better understand how these disease develop and allow us to screen new drugs that could target disease.”

The MESO-BRAIN project has now been followed up with the creation of the PLATFORMA consortium which in 2020 received €2.0million in funding from the European Commission as part of its European Innovation Council Pathfinder ‘Translation to Innovation’ scheme.

PLATFORMA will be creating purpose-built, 3D modular human tissues supported by laser-printed biocompatible scaffolds from which electric-physiological status of the cells can be monitored. Each tissue module will consist of multiple different cell types. Two main modules will be developed, namely a Skin Module and a Muscle Module.

The project aims to develop a Skin-sensory module for peripheral neurotoxicity testing of cosmetics, pollutants and transdermal delivery of new therapeutics, and a Muscle-motor model to support studies of muscular atrophies and motor neuron diseases with genetically engineered or patient-derived cells.

Voting for the awards takes place until 20 October. Aston University has been shortlisted in the Academic Research Team or Project category. To vote, click this link.

For more details about AiPT visit this link.


Notes to editors

About Aston University

Founded in 1895 and a University since 1966, Aston is a long-established university led by its three main beneficiaries – students, business and the professions, and our region and society. Aston University is located in Birmingham and at the heart of a vibrant city and the campus houses all the University’s academic, social and accommodation facilities for our students. Professor Alec Cameron is the Vice-Chancellor & Chief Executive.


Aston University was named University of the Year 2020 by The Guardian and the University’s full time MBA programme has been ranked in the top 100 in the world in the Economist MBA 2021 ranking. The Aston MBA has been ranked 12th in the UK and 85th in the world. The University also has TEF Gold status in the Teaching Excellence Framework. 


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