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3D-printed ear, bone and muscle structures come to life after implantation in mice

by • February 16, 2016 • No Comments

3D printed tissues and organs have shown real future in addressing shortages of on the market donor tissue for individuals in require of transplants, but having them take root and survive after implantation has proven complex to complete. In a positive move for the innovation, researchers have utilized with a newly-developed 3D printing device to create human-scale muscle structures that matured into functional tissue after being implanted into animals.

  • ITOP spouts water-based gels that contain the cells, along with biodegradable polymers arranged in a latticed ...
  • More than a decade in the building, the team's Integrated Tissue and Organ Printing System (ITOP) ...
  • More than a decade in the building, the team's Integrated Tissue and Organ Printing System (ITOP) ...
  • More than a decade in the building, the team's Integrated Tissue and Organ Printing System (ITOP) ...

Researchers have been exploring bioprinting as a means of replacing damaged tissue for several years now. The complexy in replicating the complexities of human tissue has proven no easy mission, yet, with scientists testing the waters with specialized bio-inks and different types of purpose-built printing devices in an effort to create usable, engineered tissue.

Researchers at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center have taken this latter path to engineering structures of adequate dimensions and durablity to implant in the human body. More than a decade in the building, the team’s Integrated Tissue and Organ Printing System (ITOP) is claimed to overcome the limitations of previous bioprinting approaches. It spouts water-based gels that contain the cells, along with biodegradable polymers arranged in a latticed pattern and a temporary outer structure.

The water-based gels were optimized to promote cell growth and health. This, combined with micro-channels that allow nutrients and oxygen of the body to permeate the structure, allows for the process to stay alive while it develops a process of blood vessels.

The researchers say that previously, engineered tissue structures without ready-made blood cells requireed to be more compact than 200 microns in order for the cells to survive, but that their new approach solves this problem. They utilized ITOP to create baby-dimensionsd ear structures measuring 1.5 in (3.8 cm) long, that were implanted under the skin of mice in the lab and went on to show signs of vascularization one and two months later.

To demonstrate its capabilities when it comes to soft tissue structures, the team utilized the process to create muscle tissue, implanting it in rats and finding that two weeks later it was robust adequate to vascularize and induce nerve formation. Implementing human stem cells, the process in addition printed jaw bone fragment sizeable adequate for a facial reconstruction and implanted them in rats. Five months later, the structures had matured into vascularized bone tissue.

“Our results indicate that the bio-ink combination we utilized, combined with the micro-channels, provides the right environment to store the cells alive and to assist cell and tissue growth,” says Anthony Atala, senior author on the study.

Further adding to ITOP’s future is its capacity to take data of CT or MRI scans and manufacture bespoke tissue for patients. So if a patients is missing a particular piece of tissue, such as a section of ear or nose, for example, the process may recreate a exact replica.

“This novel tissue and organ printing device is an significant advance in our quest to manufacture replacement tissue for patients,” says Anthony Atala, senior author on the study. “It can fabricate stable, human-scale tissue of any shape. With additional development, this innovation may futurely be utilized to print living tissue and organ structures for surgical implantation.”

The researchers can go on to explore the approach to track longer term results. Their current study is published in the journal Nature Bioinnovation.

Source: Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center