Picture Source: www.forgacslab.missouri.com
After printable guns, perhaps it’s time for printable organs. Researchers at Heriot-Wyatt University in Scotland have collaborated with a stem cell technology company, RoslinCellab and have created a printing process that might be considered a break-through in Biological advancement. This 3D printer can make spheroids using embryonic stem cells or any other biological components as the as the ‘ink’ with each spheroid contains a few cells.
Stem cells are sought after in biological experiments since they are able to develop into any kind of cells in the body such as skin cells, liver cells etc. But the process of acquiring stem cells is a controversial one as these are usually harvested from embryos that have been aborted as deriving these cells from inside the human body has been difficult. So the “bio-ink’ used is also made up of biological substances that are able to “bio-fabricate” these stem-cells Bioprinting, a relatively new field, is a method of creating living structures with the use of a 3D printer that uses “bio-ink” in the form of living cells and the ‘paper’ is a gel-like substance over which the cells are deposited layer by layer via a controlled nozzle. With this technology, scientists hope to create tailor-made organs for patients needing transplants and reduce dependence on donor organs.
Dr. Will Shu,member of the team working on the project, in a press release from Heriot-Wyatt, explained “In the longer term, we envisage the technology being further developed to create viable 3D organs for medical implantation from a patient’s own cells, eliminating the need for organ donation, immune suppression, and the problem of transplant rejection.”
The results of this project have been published in Biofabrication as “Development of a valve-based cell printer for the formation of human embryonic stem cell spheroid aggregates.”