Need a new pancreas? These scientists will print one right up for you.
Thanks to the development of a two-part water-based gel made out of synthetic DNA from Heriot Watt University, the 3D bio-printer is one step closer to reality.
The team from Heriot-Watt that engineered this developed is led by Prof. Rory Duncan and Dr.Will Shu of the University’s Institute of Biological Chemistry, Biophysics, and Bioengineering.
“The first challenge was that if we used a normal gel it was not possible to mix live cells with it for 3D printing. Colleagues at Tsinghua University in Beijing have developed a gel which, like some proprietary glues, comes as two separate liquids into which cells can be added. These do not turn into a gel until the two liquids are actually mixed together during the printing process,” said Prof. Duncan in a release.
The researchers believe that the new gel in conjunction with their 3D live cell printer yields the potential for amazing long-term health benefits.
“Using the new gel in combination with our delicate 3D printing system, which does not involve heat, UV, salt or other harsh conditions to make the printed 3D object set, we have been able to demonstrate we can produce a three dimensional matrix containing highly viable live cells,” said Dr. Shu.
While there have been many advances in biomedicine and organ donation over the years, the demand for donation still vastly exceeds the number of donors. According to Donate Life, an average of 21 people die each day because an organ was not made available for transplant.
The researchers’ eventual goal is to 3D print organs for transplant and produce and alternative to animal testing.
Interested in the future potential of 3D printing? Check out this new Open Access article, “Advances in 2D/3D Printing of Functional Nanomaterials and Their Applications,” that has just been published the the ECS Journal of Solid State Science and Technology.