AMR

Wake Forest Researchers Successfully Implant Living, Functional 3D Printed Human Tissue Into Animals

Share this Article

bioThe news has been full of stories about new advancements in 3D printed tissue. Companies such as Organovo and research institutions such as the University of California San Diego are leading the charge in the development of 3D printed, functional human tissue, particularly liver tissue. So far, printed tissue is being used mostly for pharmaceutical drug testing, but everyone in the 3D printing biosphere professes the ultimate goal of eventually producing whole, fully functional human organs that can be transplanted into patients. Most experts agree that it will happen; it’s just a matter of when.

It’s also a matter of who. The race to be the first to 3D print a transplantable human organ is an intense one, and Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center may have just pulled into the lead. Regenerative medicine researchers at the North Carolina hospital have announced that they have printed ear, bone and muscle structures and successfully implanted them into animals. The structures, after being implanted, matured into functional tissue and sprouted new systems of blood vessels, and their strength and size mean that they could feasibly be implanted into humans in the future.

atala

Dr. Anthony Atala

“We make ears the size of baby ears. We make jawbones the size of human jawbones,” said Anthony Atala, M.D., director of the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine (WFIRM). “We are printing all kinds of things.”

Dr. Atala has long been a major player in the field of regenerative medicine. In 2006 his lab made history by growing and implanting a bladder into a human patient – the first time such a feat had ever been accomplished. He and his team have been developing the Integrated Tissue and Organ Printing System (ITOP) over the past decade. The system involves a custom-designed 3D printer that utilzes a water-based ink optimized to promote the health and growth of encapsulated cells, which are printed in alternating layers with biodegradable plastic micro-channels that act as passages for nutrients. Unlike other bioprinting methods, ITOP prints the cells and the scaffolds simultaneously, according to Dr. Atala.

l_101154_025225_updates

“This novel tissue and organ printer is an important advance in our quest to make replacement tissue for patients,” he said. “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.”

printedearWake Forest’s research has been largely funded by the Armed Forces Institute of Regenerative Medicine, a military organization working to develop regenerative treatments for severely injured soldiers. The development of transplantable, 3D printed tissue could obviously benefit both military personnel and civilians, though – according to the United Network for Organ Sharing, over 121,000 Americans are currently on the waiting list for an organ transplant. The ITOP system could eliminate waiting lists altogether with “made to order” organs custom-designed for individual patients based on MRI and CT scans.

We’re still years away from that, but it’s been five months since 3D printed bone fragments were implanted into rats, and the tissue is still thriving inside the rodents’ bodies. One of the biggest challenges in bioprinting so far has been getting printed tissue to survive long enough to form blood vessels and nerves and otherwise fully integrate with the body in which it is implanted, so this study is incredibly promising. You can access the study here. Discuss these new advances in the 3D Printed Tissue forum over at 3DPB.com.

[Images: Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine]

Share this Article


Recent News

Kings 3D Breaks Ground on $70M 3D Printing Hub in China

An Intertwined Future: 3D Printing Nanocellulose



Categories

3D Design

3D Printed Art

3D Printed Food

3D Printed Guns


You May Also Like

Regular, Medium, and Large Format 3D Printing Explained

At Additive Manufacturing (AM) Research and on 3DPrint.com, we use the terms regular, medium, and large format to segment the 3D printing market. We developed these terms to help bring...

Global Materials Group Acquires Canadian Hardfacing Metal Firm, Boosting 3D Printing Portfolio

Consolidation in the additive manufacturing (AM) service bureau segment continues to take place. The latest news sees international provider Wall Colmonoy acquire Indurate Alloys Ltd., a Canadian supplier of hardfacing...

Featured

Beyond Chuck Hull’s Legacy: the Unsung Heroes Who Paved the Way for 3D Printing

Next month, we will celebrate a huge anniversary. 40 years ago, on August 8, 1984, Charles Hull filed a patent application for stereolithography: the first additive manufacturing technique in history,...

3DPOD Episode 207: 3D Printed Electronics with Richard Neill, CEO of Advanced Printed Electronic Solutions

Rich Neill is refreshingly clear and direct about 3D printed electronics. His previous venture allowed him to start Advanced Printed Electronic Solutions with his own money, making him beholden to...