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If you are not aware yet, 3D printing of functional parts of the human body is now a beautiful reality. There was a point in time that it used to be just a figment of the imagination, something that is right out of a science fiction novel. But now, the medical community is jubilant over this marvellous feat because bioprinting of human body parts would benefit a lot of people by the millions.
This novel technology developed by a research team from Winston-Salem’s Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center led to the development of the Integrated Tissue and Organ Printing or ITOP system. The resulting creations this team of researchers had paved the way for the advent of growing replacement or culturing of human tissue and organs for purposes of patient transplantation.
3D printing Australia a Promising Strategy
There is no denying to the fact that the recent years marked the emergence of 3D printing Australia as a promising strategy when it comes to growing and developing human organs and complex tissues of the human body, capable of replicating the functionality and usability of the real, authentic counterparts.
However, it is pretty obvious to see that the current wave of 3D printers we have today are not capable of producing or bioprinting human organs and tissues that are durable and flexible enough so they can be transplanted in the human body. This team of researchers from North Carolina, US, are asserting that their offered ITOP technology will help us in surmounting this kind of problem or limiting factors in the bioprinting sphere.
They spent over a decade of their lives in developing, rectifying, and perfecting what they perceived as potential flaws of the ITOP system. They meld together biodegradable material to an optimized gel that is water-based. The new plastic created took on the shape of the 3-dimensional structure whereas the gel would be containing the tissue cells, encouraging their eventual growth and development.
Among the inherent attributes of the 3D prints are their micro-channels. They act like a sponge because they tend to soak up the body’s oxygen content and nutrients following the transplantation. By this measure, the structure will have a greater chance to develop on its own blood vessel system which is paramount for them to have function once installed inside the human body.
The study made use of the ITOP system in building a baby-sized human ear, about 1.5 inches in size and implanted the same under the skin of mice. After the lapsing of 2 months following transplantation, the ear structure retained well its shape was able to form its cartilage tissue and surprisingly enough, developed its system of blood vessels.
Previous similar research, for comparison purposes, showed that 3D-printed tissue that does not happen to come with a pre-existing system of blood vessels must be at least 200 microns or the equivalent of 0.007 in. This is the only allowable size that would be capable of surviving inside the human body.
The outcome of the research indicated that the bio-ink combination they had, in conjunction with the microchannels, paved the way for the right environment to come along and help keep the cells alive, promoting along the way the production of support cells and growth of new tissues.
They also noted that the technique may present certain levels of challenges when it comes to bioprinting complex organs such as the kidney and the liver. But they assert the technology they developed for 3D printing complex tissue is feasible.