Scientists at the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine have developed a new 3D printer able to accurately produce models of human body parts. The group of scientists has successfully transplanted living tissue created by the machine, according to a study published in the journal Nature.
Using a combination of living cells and a special gel, researchers have been able to print out human body parts such as muscles, jawbones and even full-grown ears. The research represents a groundbreaking advance in regenerative medicine, as it shows the possibilities for tissues to be successfully transplanted into patients. However, researchers at the Wake Forest University noted a lot of technical obstacles holding back the process. Although the current tissue transplant survived when implanted into animals, there’s still research to be done before human transplants can be performed.
The group of scientist accountable for the study, led by Dr. Anthony Atala named the bioprinting process as ‘the integrated tissue and organ printing system’ or ITOP. The use of a 3D printed organ goes beyond the transplant because it can be the object of multiple tests. Previous attempts showed badly printed out organ shapes as they were not solid and ended up dying. The new custom bioprinter creates the implants by layering patterns of a mixture of cells and a biodegradable gel. This new approach solved the implant’s adaptability by creating organs with tiny tunnels within them. This allows tunnels to serve as a passage for nutrients until blood vessels can grow naturally, the study suggests. Wake Forest scientists were able to print stable cartilage, bone and muscle structures and successfully transplanting them into rodents.
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