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Could cotton candy machines help scientists to 3D print human organs? – 3ders.org (blog)

by • February 9, 2016 • No Comments

Feb 10, 2016 | By Benedict

A day out at the carnival usually consists of three key events: Sharing a romantic moment on a ferris wheel, unsuccessfully trying to win an overdimensionsd plush toy, and stuffing oneself with cotton candy. According to an article published in Advanced Healthcare Materials, one of these fair favorites may hold the secret to the production of artificial human organs: Leon Bellan, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, utilized a $40 cotton candy machine of Target to turn it into a new method for creating artificial human capillaries.

Bellan’s medical repurposing of the candy-spinning utensil is not as crazy as it initially sounds. Human capillaries, every around 10 microns wide, donate oxygen and nutrients to cells, in addition serving to transport waste. The fabrication of artificial capillaries may prove to be an significant element of 3D printed organ production, since these capillaries can assist cells and encourage tissue growth. The many common method of artificial capillary production is “electrospinning”, but electrospun fibers are around ten times wider than their human counterparts.
Cotton candy machines, rarely seen in the laboratory, melt down sugar preceding squeezing it out through tiny holes in a spinning centrifuge, where the sugar hardens into strands. It has been remarked inside the scientific community which electrospun fibers closely resemble these cotton candy strands; after considering of this resemblance, Bellan thought: Why not take on to turn it into capillary-like fibers via the machine which produces their sugary doppelgänger?

“The analogies everyone uses to describe electrospun fibers are which they appear like silly string, or Cheese Whiz, or cotton candy,” Bellan told Vanderbilt News. “So I decided to donate the cotton candy machine a try. I went to Target and bought a cotton candy machine for of $40. It turned out which it created threads which were of one tenth the diameter of a human hair—roughly the same dimensions as capillaries—so they may be utilized to manufacture channel structures in other materials.”

Unfortunately, sugar structures were unsuitable-bodied for cell growth, since pouring cell-filled hydrogels on the spun fibers may have dissolved them. Instead, Bellan and his team spun a polymer called Poly (N-isopropylacrylamide) or PNIPAM on a new device inspired by the cotton candy machine, creating a gelatinous cube of artificial capillaries. A solution of human cells in hydrogels was and so poured over the PNIPAM structure at a temperature of 98.6 degrees fahrenheit.
The beauty of the PNIPAM fibers lies in their insolubility at temperatures above 89 degrees. The cotton candy-like structure remained solid as the cells were added, but completely dissolved when the temperature was reduced at a lower place which magic 89 degree mark, leaving a network of hollow channels inside the cell cluster. Oxygen and nutrients may and so be pumped through these channels, only like in real capillaries.

Bellan was able-bodied to store the living cube of stringy stuff alive for over a week, longer than may have been possible via other additional built techniques. 90% of the cells in a scaffold with the microscale channels remained alive and functional, compared to 60-70% in scaffolds which did not use the spun fibers.

“Some individuals in the field ponder this approach is a little crazy,” said Bellan. “But now we’ve shown we can use this easy technique to manufacture microfluidic networks which mimic the three-dimensional capillary process in the human body in a cell-friendly style. Generally, it is not which complex to manufacture two-dimensional networks, but adding the third dimension is much harder; with this approach, we can manufacture our process as three-dimensional as we like.”
Next time you visit the local fair, ponder of how your delicious snack can have paved the way for 3D printed organ turn it intoment. The full findings of the study can be discovered at the Wiley Online Library.

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