Artificial blood vessels made on a 3D printer may soon be used for transplants of lab-created organs.
Until now, the stumbling block in tissue engineering has been supplying artificial tissue with nutrients that have to arrive via capillary vessels.
A team at the Fraunhofer Institute in Germany has solved that problem using 3D printing and a technique called multiphoton polymerisation.
Artificial blood vessels could help those in urgent need of an organ transplant.
The findings will be shown at the Biotechnica Fair in Germany in October.
Out of thousands of patients in desperate need of an organ transplant there are inevitably some who do not get it in time.
In Germany, for instance, more than 11,000 people have been put on an organ transplant waiting list in 2011 alone.
To make sure more patients receive these life-saving surgeries, researchers in tissue engineering all over the globe have been working on creating artificial tissue and even entire organs in the lab.
But for a lab-made organ to function, it needs to be equipped with artificial blood vessels - tiny and extremely complex tubes that our organs naturally possess, used to carry nutrients.
The individual techniques are already functioning and they are presently working in the test phase”
Numerous attempts have been made to create synthetic capillaries, and the latest one by the German team seems to be especially promising.
"The individual techniques are already functioning and they are presently working in the test phase; the prototype for the combined system is being built," said Dr Gunter Tovar, who heads the BioRap project at Fraunhofer Institute for Interfacial Engineering and Biotechnology IGB in Stuttgart.
3D printer builds artificial tissue replacements cell by cell. Source
3D printing technology has been increasingly used in numerous industries, ranging from creating clothes, architectural models and even chocolate treats.
But this time, Dr Tovar’s team had a much more challenging printing mission.
To print something as small and complex as a blood vessel, the scientists combined the 3D printing technology with two-photon polymerisation - shining intense laser beams onto the material to stimulate the molecules in a very small focus point.
The material then becomes an elastic solid, allowing the researchers to create highly precise and elastic structures that would be able to interact with a human body’s natural tissue.
So that the synthetic tubes do not get rejected by the living organism, their walls are coated with modified biomoelcules.
Such biomolecules are also present in the composition of the "inks" used for the blood vessel printer, combined with synthetic polymers.
"We are establishing a basis for applying rapid prototyping to elastic and organic biomaterials," said Dr Tovar.
"The vascular systems illustrate very dramatically what opportunities this technology has to offer, but that’s definitely not the only thing possible."
"Surgeon Anthony Atala demonstrates an early-stage experiment that could someday solve the organ-donor problem: a 3D printer that uses living cells to output a transplantable kidney. Using similar technology, Dr. Atala’s young patient Luke Massella received an engineered bladder 10 years ago; we meet him onstage."
Estonia must accept African & Middle Eastern immigrants says politician 2015-05-22 3:06
Kalle Laanet, an Estonian politician, spoke at the International Migration Forum held in Tallinn. He told the audience that the question is not: Should Estonia take the African and the Middle Eastern immigrants (who illegally entered Southern Europe)? He said the question is: How will Estonia take the immigrants?
â€śToday the issue is not whether Estonia should receive the refugees coming to ...
Rescuing Palmyra: History's lesson in how to save artefacts 2015-05-21 22:49
With Islamic State militants now inside the historic town of Palmyra in Syria, the question, inevitably, is whether they will destroy the ancient ruins.
As IS continues to sweep through parts of Iraq and Syria, damage to centuries-old artefacts - because IS sees statues and shrines as idolatrous - is plentiful.
But history has shown that, when culturally important sites are under ...
Saudi Arabia Wants to Convert Sweden to Islam 2015-05-21 20:38
Aje Carlbom is an Associate Professor of Social Anthropology, University of Malmö
Since the 1970s, Saudi Arabia has actively spread its interpretation of Islam, Wahhabism or Salafism, worldwide. It is the most literal version of Islam and affects many young Muslims, who regard society as a place to Islamize, writes social anthropologist Aje Carlbom.
Sweden's Foreign Minister Margot WallstrĂ¶m was ...
Professor: If You Read To Your Kids, You're 'Unfairly Disadvantaging' Others 2015-05-21 18:22
According to a professor at the University of Warwick in England, parents who read to their kids should be thinking about how they're "unfairly disadvantaging other people's children" by doing so.
In an interview with ABC Radio last week, philosopher and professor Adam Swift said that since "bedtime stories activities . . . do indeed foster and produce . . ...
If You Read About Conspiracies You're Just Like Osama Bin Laden Apparently 2015-05-21 3:46
At its heart, the story of Osama bin Laden's time at his house in Abbottabad is surreal. The American image of bin Laden - leering at us from under his head wrap as he plots and schemes - is undermined by the mundane realities of his life. The guy was responsible for murdering thousands of Americans and orchestrating a global ...