Monday, March 28, 2016
3-D Printed Body Parts in Our Future
Have you ever wondered if one day it will be possible to create synthetic organs or body parts? Seems like a far-fetched idea, but not anymore due to the regenerative medicine research conducted at Wake Forest University with 3-D printers. You may be curious as to why no one has thought to do this given that 3-D printers have been around for some time now. The problem was that the technology associated with 3-D printing was not as advanced as it is now and there were limitations on what they could create because they were unable to print blood vessels to keep the structures alive.
In order to produce viable printed organs the researchers had to figure out how get them to be less fragile, and more stable so they could be successfully transplanted into a mouse. At Wake Forest University, the scientists were able to develop a biologically compatible matrix embedded with microchannels that O2 and nutrients can freely flow through to reach certain structures in the cells. These microchannels are like a bio sponge and are made from a biodegradable material. They then get infused with a gel containing the living cells.
These cells were then allowed to develop and grow and then were implanted in an animal. Eventually, the biological matrix biodegraded and the cells were left in the desired shape. The results of the Wake Forest experimentation was that after two months the implanted organs in the mice had kept their shape and were viable. Nerve formation occurred due to muscle formation and bone implants triggered blood vessel formation over the course of five months.
The results of this study are very interesting an I am curious to see where this research goes in the future. With the success of this i'm sure that experimentation will begin on humans and eventually could lead to full limb or facial feature 3-D printed prosthetics.
Ashley Geary (1)