3D printed organs and tissues are about to become a reality thanks to the modern miracles of computer science and medicine.
Via the employment of a sophisticated 3D printer, scientists managed to create artificial organs and tissues that could replace damaged ones. The results of the study were printed in the journal Nature Biotechnology.
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The structures that were printed in three dimensions included: an ear, a bone and a muscle. It is a very exciting find. Once these organs were fitted in their context within the bodies of animals, they started developing blood vessels and functioned normally. The next step is to build such organs for human beings.
"This novel tissue and organ printer is an important advance in our quest to make replacement tissue for patients," said Anthony Atala, M.D., director of the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine (WFIRM) and senior author on the study.
"It can fabricate stable, human-scale tissue of any shape. With further development, this technology could potentially be used to print living tissue and organ structures for surgical implantation."
The new printer is a sign of progress in our quest to replace the natural with the artificial in case of emergencies. This printer can create stable, functional and suitable tissues and organs that may be used in case of humans.
The future is one where printers such as these could be used to make organs that will be surgically inserted into human cavities. The Armed Forces units are funding this research since the injuries to personnel during war requires such organs that can be transplanted later on.
Everything from muscle and cartilage to bone can be formed in a jiffy using the 3D printer. Tissue science is a new development whose aim is the replacement of diseased organs with healthy ones.
Instead of seeking help from donors for the sake of recipients, the printing of artificial organs would make things much easier and reliable for wounded personnel. The replication of the body’s tissues and organs is a very complex process.
The end result may look simple enough, but in reality it takes a lot to achieve it via 3D printing. Current printers are based on jetting, extrusion and laser-induced forward transfer. They are not suitable for printing organs or tissues.
This special 3D printer we are talking about is termed ITOP (Integrated Tissue and Organ Printing System). It was built over a decade’s time span. Several challenges were overcome once this 3D printer was a reality.
Both biodegradable plastic materials which form the tissue structure and water-based gels that house the cells were deposited by this printer. A tough external shell is also deposited by this machine.
No harm comes to the cells. The biggest issue is whether the cells will live long enough within the body they are implanted into to take root. This integration is the crux of the matter.
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A water-based ink allows the cells to grow and flourish in the medium of the body. All in all, it is an extremely delicate and complicated process. The procedure has been a success so far in rats. Human beings are next.