Scientists have invented bio-ink and robotic tools to 3D print organs right inside the human body through small incisions.
Currently, millions of people are waiting for their turn for a donor material transplant. One of the options for solving this problem is «assembly» organ from living cells by 3D printing followed by implantation. However, in this case, surgical intervention will still be required, there will be a risk of infection, and the patient will need to wait for the implant to be manufactured..
To work around these difficulties, researchers at Ohio State University have developed a new bio-ink that consists of living cells dispersed in a safe gel. With the help of special robotic instruments, they can inject the gel into the body and harden it with the usual light. In addition, the ink is viscous enough to maintain its shape at body temperature..
During the experiments, the team used a 3D printing attachment attached to robotic technology. The gel dispensing system is similar to a piping bag, but programmatically controlled. As a test subject, the scientists used raw chicken breast, into which a gel similar to jelly was injected through a nozzle, and flexible spacers and braces were used to fix the working space and secure the material..
The researchers made the structure porous to facilitate the supply of nutrients, oxygen and other essential molecules. Three weeks after printing, 77% of the muscle cells in the bio-ink remained viable.
However, scientists say that it is still far from the assembly of complete organs inside the body, since modern tissue engineering is at an early stage of development. So far, they are considering using their technology to improve standard surgeries, such as direct delivery of additional biomaterial after transplant to accelerate healing or prevent infection..
We also previously reported on the development of a handheld bioprinter for the treatment of severe burns that «prints» new skin right on the wound.
text: Ilya Bauer, photo: Ohio State University
New 3D Printing Organs Technology