3D printed cells to help grow ‘synthetic liver’


Good news! Scientist are now one step closer for being able to to create artificial liver with the help of 3D sugar network. US team created a template for blood vessels to grow into, using sugar. The proposal is quite away from the clinic yet. But it certainly serves as hope for many.

Researchers have been on their toes, have long been experimenting with the 3D printing of cells and blood vessels, building up tissue structure layer by layer with artificial cells.

But the synthetically engineered cells often die before the tissue is formed.

The technology, in which a 3D printer uses sugar as its building material, could one day be used for transplants.

The study appears in the journal “Nature Materials”.

Dr Jordan Miller from the lab of the lead scientist, Dr Christopher Chen, at the University of Pennsylvania, said: “The big challenge in understanding how to grow large artificial tissue is how to keep all the cells alive in these engineered tissues, because when you put a lot of cells together, they end up taking nutrients and oxygen from neighbouring cells and end up suffocating and dying,” he said.

Prof Sangeeta Bhatia, of MIT says “Sugar is a very nice material that can be dissolved away in the presence of living tissue very friendly to biological tissue.” she further added,” the technique was similar to creating the shape of a vase in wax, surrounding it with molten metal and then melting the wax away.”

Prof Martin Birchall, a surgeon scientist at University College London, said the research answered “a lot of fundamental problems in tissue engineering.”

The body’s cardiovascular system – blood vessels – solves this issue with natural cells and tissues.

So a group of scientists from the University of Pennsylvania and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) decided to build a synthetic vascular system that would serve the same purpose – by creating a place where the future artificial blood vessels would be located.

Dr Miller’s colleague Prof Sangeeta Bhatia, from MIT, said that the technique was similar to creating the shape of a vase in wax, surrounding it with molten metal and then melting the wax away.

Source: Journal from “Natural Material”, BBC

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