Bones, Cartilage, and Muscles Can Now Be Printed Through Revolutionary 3D Bioprinter
The low number of organ donors was a huge concern for health practitioners who needed to source replacement organs for their suffering patients. But the solution to this is already within reach. Scientists at Wake Forest School of Medicine have gone one level higher with 3D printing technology. Now, with the "bioprinter," organs like bones, cartilage, and muscles can be printed.
According to Yahoo News, this revolutionary method of 3D printing has the capability to produce human-sized organs, which can survive and become part of a living organism. The scientists at Wake Forest were able to implant bones, cartilage, and muscle into animals, paving the way for a larger scale development for use on humans.
Dr. Anthony Atala, Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine Director, said in an email to Reuters that, "It has been challenging to produce human scale tissues with 3D printing because larger tissues require additional nutrition."
To answer for this, Atala and his fellow researchers developed "the integrated tissue and organ printing system," which they called ITOP. Through ITOP, the printed tissue becomes nourished after implantation into a living subject.
Live Science reported that the device mimics the original tissue using polymer materials. In order to feed nutrients and oxygen to the tissues, micro channels were used on the tissues. This is an important aspect of the printing process as this allows the nutrients to reach the cells, preventing them from dying.
By far, the researchers were able to successfully implant human-size ear structures under the skin of the mice. After two months, the tissues did not break down and blood vessels and cartilage tissue formed around the implanted ears. Skull fragments were also implanted by the researchers, which after five months, had already formed bone tissues with the essential blood vessels.
According to Dr. Atala, this 3D bioprinter is "an important advance in our quest to make replacement tissue for patients." He added further that, "It can fabricate stable, human-scale tissue of any shape."