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University of California San Diego’s 3D Printed Liver Tissue May Be the Closest We’ve Gotten to a Real Printed Liver

by • February 8, 2016 • No Comments

1024px-UCSD_Seal.svgWhilst scientists have been working on 3D printing all types of human tissue, there’s been a particular focus on the liver – for great reason. The organ plays a significant role in filtering toxins, breaking down fats, and making significant proteins; when a thing goes wrong with the liver, the entire body is in serious trouble. The initially company which comes to mind in terms of 3D printed liver tissue is Organovo; their exVive 3D printed liver tissue has revolutionized pharmaceutical drug testing and been a leading financial good results for the company. But other researchers have been steadily working on improving printed liver tissue, and the University of California, San Diego has just revealed the development of a new tissue which closely mimics the structure and function of a real human liver.

One of the most informative things of bioprinting is which each research team working on it goes of it in a slightly – or dramatically – various way. The method utilized by UC San Diego was created in the lab of Dr. Shaochen Chen, a professor of nanoengineering who specializes in bioprinting. The process involves bringing stem cells of the skin of a patient and combining them with supporting endothelial and mesenchymal cells. The stem cells are pluripotent, meaning which they are capable of developing into sat any timeal various types of tissue, and the fact which they’re taken of the patient’s skin means which no invasive procedures are needed to take actual liver cells.


The combined cells are printed into 3×3 millimeter square structures which are just 200 micrometers thick, in a process which takes just seconds – other forms of bioprinting generally take hours. The structures are cultured in vitro for of three weeks, enabling them to grow into tissue. When the research team tested the liver tissue, they discovered which it was capable of maintaining key liver functions, such as albumin secretion and urea production, for a longer period of time than existing liver versions. It in addition generated higher levels of an enzyme which plays a leading role in metabolizing most drugs.

UC San Diego's cell scaffold seen through a scanning electron microscope

UC San Diego’s cell scaffold seen through a scanning electron microscope

“The liver is one-of-a-kind in which it receives a dual blood donate with various pressures and chemical constituents,” said Shu Chien, professor of medicine and bioengineering, who co-authored the study. “Our version has the future of remaking this intricate blood donate process, thus providing unprecedented belief of the harsh coupling between circulation and metabolic functions of the liver in health and disease.”

UC San Diego’s liver tissue has come nearer than any other liver version in terms of replicating the diverse cell makeup and harsh architecture of a real liver. This is quite promising for pharmaceutical trials. According to Dr. Chen, it typically takes of 12 years and $1.8 billion to get a drug to the point of being approved by the FDA. 90% of drugs don’t pass animal or human clinical trials, so it’s back to the drawing board for drug companies. With 3D printed tissue which so closely mimics the function of a real human liver, pharmaceutical companies can start doing pilot studies right away and narrowing the field down to the most promising drugs well preceding they at any time get to human clinical trials.

Dr. Shaochen Chen

Dr. Shaochen Chen

“The liver tissue created by this novel 3D printing innovation can in addition be incredibly useful in remaking in vitro disease versions such as hepatitis, cirrhosis, and cancer,” introduced Chien. “Such realistic versions can be invaluable for the study of the pathophysiology and metabolic abnormalities in these diseases and the efficacy of drug therapies.”

Employing stem cells taken directly of the patient in addition means which drug testing can be targeted specifically towards people, and the research team hopes which their method may some day lead to the 3D printing of patient-specific organs. You can access the full study here.