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."
EU on high alert as Germany accepts Ebola patients 2014 07 30
A German hospital has agreed to treat Ebola patients amid widespread fears of a possible outbreak of the deadly disease in Europe. Over 670 people have already been killed by the disease in West Africa with doctors struggling to control the epidemic.
A German hospital in Hamburg agreed to accept patients following a request from the World Health Organization (WHO), Deutsche ...
Bolivia declares Israel terrorist regime 2014 07 30
Bolivia has declared Israel a “terrorist state” and revoked a visa exemption agreement with Tel Aviv in protest at the ongoing Israeli attacks on the besieged Gaza Strip.
The move "means, in other words, we are declaring (Israel) a terrorist state," President Evo Morales said during talks with a group of educators in the city of Cochabamba ...
Pagan Traditions: Mysteries of medieval graffiti in England’s churches 2014 07 30
Medieval graffiti of straw kings, pentagrams, crosses, ships and "demon traps" have been offering a tantalising glimpse into England’s past. What do the pictures reveal about life in the Middle Ages?
A project to record the graffiti, which began in Norfolk, has now been rolled out to other areas and is gradually spreading across England.
Armed with just a torch and a ...
More Gigantic Holes Appear in Siberia’s ’End of the World’ 2014 07 30 Is it the end of the world in Siberia’s ’End of the World’?
Scientists suspect not, but they’re still investigating the strange and alarming holes that are swallowing up the Siberian north.
This week two new holes have been discovered, and with similar characteristics as the first reported hole: a very deep shaft with smooth sides, debris surrounding the rim, and water ...
BLACKLISTED: The Secret Government Rulebook For Labeling You a Terrorist 2014 07 30 The Obama administration has quietly approved a substantial expansion of the terrorist watchlist system, authorizing a secret process that requires neither “concrete facts” nor “irrefutable evidence” to designate an American or foreigner as a terrorist, according to a key government document obtained by The Intercept.
The “March 2013 Watchlisting Guidance,” a 166-page document issued last year by the National Counterterrorism Center, ...