American researchers started producing vital parts of body using 3D printer. Moreover, bones, muscles and cartilages implanted into animals function in a proper way. According to scientists, this achievement can become a step forward opening wide possibilities for regenerative medicine, because living tissues are used in artificial organs production.
The idea of replacing injured bones, lost ears or exhausted heart muscles by individual patient’s cells seem to be very promising. Earlier the usage of such a technology was impeded by the difficulty of keeping cells alive: they lack oxygen and nutrients when implanted into artificial tissues thicker than 0.2 millimeters. But this time scientists managed to produce a 4 centimeter-long ear which cells are still functioning after 2 months of transplantation.
A team from the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine developed a new method allowing to print a tissue containing many pin holes thanks to which nutrients flow throughout the tissue.
The printing carries out with the help of Integrated Tissue-Organ Printing System, ITOP, it took scientists about 10 years to develop this system. Organ is created from plastic-like biodegradable material which serves as a carcass or a platform for future living organ. A special water-based gel stimulating cells’ growth, is applied on the top of the organ.
When implanted into animals structures are gradually replaced by organic matrix consisting of proteins produced by a cell. Meanwhile blood vessels and nerve tissues also develop in transplants.
“At present we can print human tissues”, explains a leading scientist, professor Anthony Atala. Even though we still have to conduct some extra testing of artificial organs, we can assume that the perspectives of this regenerative technology are large.
For example, we need to help a patient with a jaw injury, lacking some segment. In this case, we will have to conduct tomography and then use the received data for our software, controlling our printer to create an artificial jaw bone, which will fit the injury of this specific patient”.
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At present, similar methods when cells are grown at a biodegradable carcass are already used: for example, under the supervision of professor Atala, artificial vaginas were transplanted into women, which organs were rudimental due to some illnesses.
But this time scientists managed to expand the range of generated tissues: they print muscles, soft tissues of cartilage, bone tissue.