3D Printing Artificial Tissues on Demand

A study coming out of UCLA is suggesting that we may soon see bioprinting of artificial tissues on demand.  According to UCLA bioengineer Ali Khademhosseini and his team of researchers, they have discovered bioprinting techniques that use stereolithography and a 3D Printer that Khademhosseini himself designed.
Khademhosseini stated in the study, which was  published in Advanced Materials, “Tissues are wonderfully complex structures, so to engineer artificial versions of them that function properly, we have to recreate their complexity.  Our new approach offers a way to build complex biocompatible structures made from different materials.”
The 3D printer has two unique elements to it that make it stand out from other Bioprinters.  One feature is a microfluidic chip that features multiple inlets which allow it to print different materials.  The second feature is a digital micromirror, which is comprised of over a million mirrors, each of which are capable of moving independent of the other mirrors.
Various types of hydrogels were formed into scaffolds that provide the structure for tissues to grow upon.  The micromirrors then direct light onto the surface of the structure,  The light gives form to the structure being printed.  But the light does more than that, it also activates bonds between molecules to form, which converts the gels to solid materials.
The mirror array then directs the form of each printed layer using light patterns.
The study reveals the first time a process like this used multiple materials for automated stereolithographic bioprinting.  So far, they have printed tumors with intact blood vessel networks that can be used to study various types of cancers.  They have also implanted some printed structures into rats successfully, with no rejection by the rat bodies.
The ramifications for this study could lead one day to the printing of a variety of human tissue and organs, such as hearts, and, more immediately, new skin for burn victims.

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Paul Gordon is the publisher and editor of iState.TV. He has published and edited newspapers, poetry magazines and online weekly magazines. He is the director of Social Cognito, an SEO/Web Marketing Company. You can reach Paul at pg@futureq.tv