Scientists prove feasibility of ‘printing’ replacement tissue

Feb 15, 2016

Using a sophisticated, custom-designed 3D printer, regenerative medicine scientists at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center have proved that it is feasible to print living tissue structures to replace injured or diseased tissue in patients.

Reporting in Nature Biotechnology, the scientists said they printed ear, bone and muscle structures. When implanted in animals, the structures matured into functional tissue and developed a system of blood vessels. Most importantly, these early results indicate that the structures have the right size, strength and function for use in humans.

“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.”

With funding from the Armed Forces Institute of Regenerative Medicine, a federally funded effort to apply regenerative medicine to battlefield injuries, Atala’s team aims to implant bioprinted muscle, cartilage and bone in patients in the future.

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One comment on “Scientists prove feasibility of ‘printing’ replacement tissue”

  • @OP – Using a sophisticated, custom-designed 3D printer, regenerative medicine scientists at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center have proved that it is feasible to print living tissue structures to replace injured or diseased tissue in patients.

    Reporting in Nature Biotechnology, the scientists said they printed ear, bone and muscle structures. When implanted in animals, the structures matured into functional tissue and developed a system of blood vessels. Most importantly, these early results indicate that the structures have the right size, strength and function for use in humans.

    “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.

    An article on these experiments was published earlier in the National Geographic Magazine.

    The Big Idea: Organ Regeneration – Published: March 2011

    http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2011/03/big-idea/organ-regeneration-text

    The synthetic scaffold of an ear sits bathed in cartilage-producing cells, part of an effort to grow new ears for wounded soldiers.

    One tool they use is similar to an ink-jet printer; it “prints” different types of cells and the organ scaffold one layer at a time.

    Growing a copy of a patient’s organ may not always be possible—for instance, when the original is too damaged by cancer. One solution for such patients might be a stem cell bank. Atala’s team has shown that stem cells can be collected without harming human embryos (and thus without political controversy) from amniotic fluid in the womb. The researchers have coaxed those cells into becoming heart, liver, and other organ cells. A bank of 100,000 stem cell samples, Atala says, would have enough genetic variety to match nearly any patient. Surgeons would order organs grown as needed instead of waiting for cadavers that might not be a perfect match.



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