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."
Aldo Moro mystery: Italian prosecutors revisit former PM’s 1978 murder 2013 06 17 It was arguably the darkest episode of Italy’s postwar history: the kidnapping of former prime minister Aldo Moro in 1978 and the discovery of his corpse 55 days later in the boot of a Renault 4 in central Rome.
Despite four trials, numerous investigations and the passage of 35 years, the affair continues to raise questions among Italians, with many sharing ...
Mysterious Subatomic Particle May Represent Exotic New Form of Matter 2013 06 17 In the course of exploring the properties of a strange subatomic particle, physicists may have stumbled upon something even stranger: a mysterious and exotic new form of matter.
The intriguing discovery was made more or less simultaneously by two collaborations: the Belle experiment at the Japanese High Energy Accelerator Research Organization (KEK) and BESIII experiment run by the Institute of High ...
Over 200 Million People Are in the US Facial Recognition Database 2013 06 17 You are probably participating in the facial recognition database whether you want to or not. Most likely, your visage is there to be easily identified, without your consent, even if you’ve never committed a crime.
Using the vague criteria of “law enforcement purposes”, the United States has more than 200 million Americans filed away in various facial recognition databases. If ...
Russia says it will not allow Syria no-fly zones 2013 06 17
Russia, a veto-wielding member of the U.N. Security Council, will not permit no-fly zones to be imposed over Syria, Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said on Monday.
"I think we fundamentally will not allow this scenario," Lukashevich told a news briefing, adding that calls for a no-fly zone showed disrespect for international law.
Lukashevich spoke before planned talks between President Vladimir ...
Darpa Robotics Challenge: the search for the perfect robot soldier 2013 06 17 The US military’s $2bn robot beauty pageant is all part of its plan to maintain its technological superiority
The Atlas robot looks something out of the post-apocalyptic future, or maybe a Will Smith blockbuster. It’s a 330lb cyborg with eerily human-like hands and a head equipped with a laser. It lunges forward with a grim, deliberate clatter on curved slices of ...