Scientists at Wake Forest Print Body Parts That are Living

A team of scientists from Wake Forest University has used the combination of a special gel and living cells to print human body parts that are alive, including jawbones, ears and muscles.

It is an advance on other previous attempts, which either involved the making of a scaffold of plastic and attempting to get cells to grow on or around it, or the printed out organ shapes which ended up dying or being too floppy.

This new approach is a mix of live cells with the gel that begins as liquid but quickly hardens into a consistency of living tissue, with layers of them with tiny tunnels that act as passages to feed nutrients to the cells until the blood vessels are able to grow in and then take over the work naturally.

The team describes the new technology for bioprinting and the organs thus far that have been grown using the new technology.

The tissue organ printer is able to fabricate stable human tissue constructs of any type of shape, wrote researchers.

The correct tissue construct shape is obtained through a human body through processing computed tomography or the magnetic resonance imaging data in design software that is computer aided.

Researchers have worked over 10 years attempting to make organ transplants that are “grow-your-own.” They said they are not the only ones doing the other teams are working on hands that are bioprinted.

During 2006, researchers made the first complete organ that was ever grown and implanted in a human. The organ was a bladder. They also made rabbit penises that were the first organs sold.

The researchers are trying to find new ways of helping personnel in the military who are injured during battle. However, the same principles apply to whatever patient that needs a new organ, new ear or replaced jaw for example.

The big challenge is that body parts that are living are very complicated. It is not sufficient just making a blob of heart shaped tissue. Even the most simplest of structures such as an ear, has a number of types of cells and all of them need to be fed by their tiny capillaries

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