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REVOLUTIONARY 3D BIOPRINTING TECH RESULTS IN BEATING HEART CELLS

 

old houses in venice can be kept going for centuries as long as you look after them, just repair them and replace the rotten bits before its too late. We can do the same with humans, an ongoing maintenance approach, in the same way that it’s possible to keep a car or house going if you put enough maintenance in. In principle you can keep the body going simply by repairing and making harmless the damage and mutation that accumulates as an intrinsic side effect of the operation of the body.

We cna keep a house going in definitely, if anything goes wrong we fix it. why can’t we do that with our bodies? Today we can’t fully do that for one reason, we know how a house works, we know everything that can go wrong with it and know how to fix anything that goes wrong. We don’t have that knoweldge with our bodies. That’s what’s going to change, starting now. Ray Kurzweil knows more than most people, recently he has turned his attention to life extension technology. has been awarded the American medal of technology, recieved honors from 3 US presidents, and is in the national inventors hall of fame. He has recently turned his attention to life extension technology.

We’ve been able to creat small arteries, skin graftes, cartilage, a trachea, and even a supplemental bladder. But while we can create tissu for more complex organs like the heart or organs, we’re not at the point of being able to stich them into you. But becaus the tech is so new, the cost is so high. One major component of regenerative medicine is called “Tissue Engioneering” the process of combining cells, biologically active molecules and what are called “Scaffolds” the material upon which the tissue is ggrown to turn them into active organs. When growing tossues scientists create scaffolds out of a variety of material, it could be protein, it could be plastic. Cells are introduced to the scaffolds and hopefully tissues will begin to grow. Scientists have managed to grow artificial skin and cartilege successfully with this technique, though we have only seen limited success in using it with actual patients. Regenerative medicine combines tissue engineering with our body’s own prepensity to self heal. Our cells want to be fruitful and multiply, and our bodies want to heal themselves, regenerative medicine giveet them a boost. The idea of these scaffolds was actually borrowed from nature, when cells reproduce they typically create their own scaffold called “an extracellular matrix” to grow on. But the matrix doesn’t just keep your cells from collapsing into a mushy pile, it also functions as a post office, delivering messages in a timely manner from the environment around it. The information given to the cell via the extracellular matrix plays a big part in determining wht happens to the cell, scientists study how different cells respond to different signals and are able to influence cells to do things they wouldn’t normally do, like repair damaged tissue or even grow completely new ones.Stem cells are a special type of cell sort of like a blank slate, they start out undifferentiated and are able to differentiate into specialized cell types like muscle bone, skin, ect. You can get them from embryos that are 4-5 days old, and those are called embryonic stem cells. Or you can get them from adults, but not all stem cells are created equally. Stem cells that can take on any role are known as Pluripotent and their oonyl limitation is that they can’t grow you a completely new body. You’ll find pluripotent stem cells in embryos, those that are still opretty versatile but can take on a selection of roles are known as multipotent. And those are the ones youll find in an adult body, but work is being done to make adult cells pluripotent so you won’t need to get them from embryos, which is a bit of a touchy subject.

The first successful liver transplant was performed in 1954, since then the techniques have improved over the yeras. 29,000 organ transplants are pefromed in the US every year, but it’s a tricky business. Matches are rare and rehjections can get pretty nasty, they happen more than you think. According to the national kidney foundation, 70% of kidney transplants fail within 3 years. While the survivval rate of lung transplants is surprisingly low. 66% after just 3 years, according to a report from the children’s hospital of Pittsburg. When a person gets a new organ or limb, their body obviously recognizes it as foreign, and like most foreign things it tries to get rid of it. So what happens when somebody’s body rejects a transplant. Basically the body uses its immune system to fight off any foreign invader whether it’s a virus or a new liver. An important part of the immune system is the major histocompatibility complex or MHC. MHC’s job is to differentiate between your body cells and foreign cells. MHCs are made up of mostly glycoproteins on the walls of your cells they act as tags that identify themselves. When a white blood cell reads the tag, it won’t destroy the cells. There’s over 20 genes that code for the MHC and over 50 variations per gene. There’s a lot of combinations, that’s why it’s so hard to match a donor to a recipient. When the MHC recognizes tags as foreign, it starts process that triggers destruction of the weird scary unknown cells. The immune system produces T-cells which go and target the foreign cells and induces Apoptosis or “Programmed cell death”. Other cells and proteins get involved too like phagocytes which eat up the dead cells, anyways, it’s a whole messy process. You can tell your body’s rejecting an organ in a few ways. But there are ways to beat rejection, most of it involves immunosuppressant drugs which include corticosteroids such as Prednisone. The dose of medication is pretty high and you have to be on the medication for the rest of your life, sometimes 12 different medications every day. Because the drugs lower their immune systems they put themselves at risk for infections, illenesses and even certain types of cancer. They have to forever walk a fine line between rejection and infection.

It’s all about replaceing parts at the microscopic level, like a human body shop. Most people are familiar with today’s inkjet printers, these are loaded with cartidges of ink that is sparayed onto paper to produce text and 2D images. In this similar fashion future bioprinters will be loaded with cartridges of living cells. These will then be output from a bioprint head that will move left and right, back and forth, and up and down, in order to produce a 3D object. Bioprinters will output many types of cells, as well as a dissolvable gel to protect the cells during printing. Organs will then be built up in a great many layers. Over several hours, a complete replacement kidney, liver, heart, or other bodypart will thereby be created. Today, one of the pioneers of bioprinting is Organovo. Here scientists have already bioprinted experimental human blood vessels and even animal cardiac tissu. The Novagen MMX bioprinter first print out a layer of biopaper gel. Bioink steroids each containing 10s of thousands of cells are then injected into this water based material. More layers are subsequetly added to build up the final object. Amazingly, nature then takes over and a bioink steroids slowly fuse together. As this occurs, the biopaper dissolves away, leaving a final bioprinted body part. As bioprinters enter medical application so replacement organs will be output to individual patient specification. As every body part printed will be created from a culture of a patient’s own cells, so the risk of patient organ transplant rejection will low indeed. Some future bioprinters are likely to add cells directly to the human body. Sometime next decade, doctors may therefore be able to scan wounds and spray on layers of cells to very rapidly heal them. One day, keyhole bioprinters may even repair organs inside a patient during an operation. In-situ bioprinting could even have cosmetic applications, for example face printers may be created, these would evaporate existing flesh and simultaneously replace it with new cells. People could therefore download a face scan from the internet and have it apply to themselves. Alternatively some teenagers may have their own face scanned and re-applied every few years to achieve apparent perpetual youth. In the future bioprinting could allow most parts of the human body to be repaired, with synthetic organs printed to patient specification, organ donor waiting lists would also be a thing of the past.

We take it for granted that nothing lasts forever, and that’s true of life itself. Every living thing will eventually break down and die, but does it have to be that way? Can we live forever? Thanks to some brand new discoveries, the dream of custom made personalized body parts may soon become a reality. In the 2005 sci fi thriller “The Island”, people have found a way to live forver. They grow clones and harvest their organs. But real science may be on the verge of a less diabolical solution. This is no special effect, it’s a lab grown lung. No clone attached. I absolutely see a day where you’ll walk into a manufacturing facility somewhere and there will be jars of kidneys, jars of hearts, jars of livers, whatever it is you need. Just as in the island, your body would accpe the new organ, because it WOULD be yours, grown from your cells. There would be no more waiting lists for organs. There would be no more rejection. We would enter a whole new era where we could buolt you a genetically identitcal replacement. But how do you make an organ without a body to grow it in? We’ve nbeen growing cells in the lab for decades but they just sit around in flat layers or clumps. sSo how would you coax them to form a 3 dimensional organ like a heart? With chambers and valves, and blood vessels. The answer is the frameing of a house, a scafofold. An organ is not unlike a buiolding or house. it’s a collection of parts that have to come together and work together, think of a coinderblock as a cell. Problem is, a block or cell alone is not enough. to construct a building you need to begin with an internal framework or scaffold to define the parts and hold them togtehr. 30 years ago, transplant surgeon Jay Vaconty and chemical engineer robert lanker, realized that to build an organ, cells also bneed a framework, a scaffold to guide their growth. The challend=ge was to engineer scaffold materials that living tissu could grow on. So this is a material we call biorubber, it is a material like flesh, it’s specially tailored so that cells would like it’s surface and would be able to grow. as a lot of things can be toxic to a cells. But the right material was only a start, it must then be seeded with cells. a few weeks in an incubator allows those cells to multiply and cover the scaffold. Then comes a rather strange test. This is good encouraging news for people who need complex body parts. 20 Americans every day die waiting for donor organs. The problem with complex organ like the heart, you need a blood vessel per cell, because the heart works all day everyday. If you’ve ever seen a blood vessel but they look like a tree and the challenge is not to build that big limb, but to build those little tiny branches that come off. But building these intricate branches might be iunecessary if we take advantage of a remarkable fact. Organs are not just made of cells. Ifyou wash the cells away, what’s left? What’s left are these proteins on which the cells sit, and they form the framework of the organ, the scaffold. these natural scaffolds hold an organ’s shape down to the smallest detail, including every blood vessel. So could they be used to build a compolex organ life the heart? Nobody’s ever stripped a heart of its cels leaving the scaffold intact. But some scientists have found a way. they would use the blood vesseld ina . rat’s heart that would dissolve it’s cells and nothing else. But which chemical? The process of finding the right chemical is a trial and error process starting from A to Z on the cehemical shelf. Thus the heart has a full skeleton, injected red dye proved that the structure was unharmed but the cells cleared away. Just putting cells on a scaffold isn’t enough. Its putting cells on a scaffold and giving them an electrical signal, a mechanical blood pressure,a nd then giving them oxyghen. It’s not just a heart in a jar, it’s a heart in an artificial body. It’s simple in many ways, but it’s unbelieveably complicated. After 8ndays, the fiorst lab geown heart beat on it’s own. It really makes you question, “what is life?”

As modern medicine and living standards impriove so does our life expectancy. But will a day soon come when life has no cap, many scientists believe it to be much more than just science fiction. To understand how humans can live forever, we first need to understand what aging actually is. A lot of people think aging is a very complex process but it’s really quite simple. Aging is simply just a side effect of being alive. All our body’s normal day-to-day processes like breathing moving and digesting food gradually cause wear and tear on our cells, after a certtian amount of wear and tear on our cells, after a certain amount of weear and tear our cells die, causing permentant damage to our body. Our bodies can onmly take so much of this cell damage, so eventually we die. Think of your body like a car, driving it around causes unavoidable wear and tear to all of its components until one day it gives up and refuses to start. Unless you perform eegular maintenance on it like changing the oil or even replacing entire parts, some revolutionary scientists have take . thwe same mechanical view on the human body, and believe that with regular maintaenance and even with replaceing damaged organs, we can keep our bodies running smoothly indefinitely. In 2011 surgeons in Sweden performed the world’s first orgna transplant using a synthetic organ that was grown in a lab. The organ was grown by london scientists in just a few days, but m,st importantly, the synthetic windpipe was grown with the patient’s own DNA, meaning there was no chance of it rejecting the new organ . the cancer patient is now doing fine after the transplant. We are now thinking of doing the same thing with complex organs like hearts and lubngs, within 10 years any organ will be able to be grown in a lab undermanned and in unlimited quantities without the need of organs. 

Today it costs hundreds of dollars to have every gene in your body sequenced and listed. 10 years ago it was millions. 20 years ago it was a multi billion dollar government project. This is an owner’s manual for your body, and you can use it to grow organs for yourself as your old organs wear out. You stick cells from your body into a plastic organ scaffold, they proliferate into a perfect organ, and then the plastic dissolves. We can grow heart valves, bones, cartilage, skin, bladders, livers, you name it.

december 3 1967, a new historic milestone in man’s quest for man’s immortality is underway. The location is a small hospital in capetown south africa. Dr. Chrisitian Barnard is making preparations to do the impossible, the world’s first human to human heart transplant. finding a willing patient was a challenge. the idea of carving a still warm heart out of a recently deceased person and putting it into someone else sounded monstrous like something out of a frankenstein movie. In november of that year, he recieves the patient he was waiting for, the volunteer was louis washconsky, a 54 year old grosser who suffered from diabetes and a terminal form of heart disease. He needed a new heart and was willng to undergo the risky procedure to get one. It sounded goulish, but dr. Barnard and his surgical team were successful after a 9 hour surgery. Pinoneers in a new frontier, they performed the first human to human heart transplant. Today, every concievable body part is being replaced like a worn out muffler aor acarborator. It’s analogous to a mechanic replacing parts of a car, good as new. We can replace defective organs, we can start to fight back against the idea of dying itself. Transplants also have a dark side for all their benefits, the success of transplants as a consequence there are too many peoplewho are waiting for kidneys, livers, and hearts than there are organs available, people die waiting for life-saving organs. We are now growing organs, a step to a future where people don’t die, they just constantly replace parts. We now have the capability for off the shelf cells that you can use to creat tissues and organs for the future. I this the secret to eternal life? Growing spare bodyparts in jars? The ability to organ transplant has pened the door to eternal life, but to solve the shortage of organs, we are growing replacement body parts using dead people. The first lab grown organ , a bladder, was implanted onto a human in… in the next 20 years we will be able to buy every part of our body on demand a la cart. The natural response of the body if it recieves a organ from someone welse, the response of the body is to reject it. So why can’t we just grow organs using the patient’s own cells. The magic ingredient, the stem cell. The cells replicate and double in number every 36 hours, we found a cell source that can self renew and teeat thousands and thousands of patients. One of the characteristics that defines a stem cell is its ability to form new tissue that is self renew, regenerate itself again and again, one is proveded with an unlimited source of new tissu that can be made from these remarkable cells. But where do we get these miracle cells to use in growing organs? We stumbled upon a known fact that the embryo cells were actually present in the amniotic fluid that surrounds the placenta also called the afterbirth, we could get the cells to grow rapidly. Its called tissu regeneration, using the organ fromm a cadavar, we scrub away all the tissue, leaving just the frame of the organ and then take a small postage stamp biopsy of the living person’s organ that needs to be replaced. From that he harvests cells, mixes them with embryonic stem cells and expands them in a culture. In weeks he grows enough cells to cover a football field, finally, he layers these newly formed cells onto the frame, and much like a crystal that’s pre programmed to grow a certain shape, a new perfectly formed organ comes to life. This is the frame of an ear made from a cadaver, by introducing stem cells we can expect to see a new ear grow in just 8 weeks. Using a sort of cellular scaffold made of certain . materials, you could grow heart cells, or liver cells, or kidney cells, into this scaffold and create a whole new organ that could then be transplanted into someone who needed it. One of the first tissues we worked on was the bladder, so after working on this technolgoy year after year, finally, we had enough data and enough body of work, we said to ourselves, you know, we have nothing ledft to do but try it out in patients and see how it works. Dr. Attall’s lab had great success in growing organs, Dr. Attala’s custom buolt urethras and bladders have been used in over 70 transplants, extending the life of patients who would have otherwise died prematurely.

Someone in the US suffers a heart attack every 34 seconds, while someone dies from a heart-related disease every 60 seconds.

  • A new method from Australia uses bioprinting to create a patch of beating cardiac cells that can be stuck directly to a damaged organ following an attack.

The biomolecular revolution will not only enable us to prevent and cure many fatal diseases, it’ll go even further. It will enable us to repair and regrow many of the tissues and organs that our bodies are made of. The human bodyshop is becoming a reality. At the institute for regenerative medicine in north carolina, scientists are engineering replacement organs in the lab. Its done through bioprinting. The way the organs are created is by building up the organ by printing the cells on a 3D scaffold so the cells and tissues grow on these scaffolds and as the tissu matures this mold actually dissolves away. The scaffolding can look like a nose or an ear, the mold takes the shape of the organ we’re trying to replace. We can have a mold of a bladder or a heart. We can now grow cartilege, skin, and more complex organs like blood vessels, windpipes, kidneys, and other tissues and organs as well which are even more complex. In the future, we can all keep a stockpile of our organ transplants for emergencies. We can regenerate and perfect our organs, disease and defects may become a thing of the past. If in the coming decades what will it mean for our lifespans.

BODY BUILDING

Researchers from the Heart Research Institute (HRI) have developed a 3D bioprinter, the first of its kind in Australia, that could replace a patient’s damaged cells after a heart attack.

“When patients come into the clinic, they would provide us with their cells from their skin,” HRI scientist Dr Carmine Gentile explained. “Those cells can generate stem cells and then heart cells.” The resulting patch of beating cardiac cells can be stuck directly to a damaged organ following an attack. In order to be sure the patch is the right size and shape, each patient’s heart is first scanned to map the damage.

According to Gentile, “the cells behave[d] like a real heart. This is a striking finding that we have been able to identify in our lab.”

Initially a method used to produce various tools and equipment, 3D printing has been quickly adapted to medicine. All bioprinters are still experimental, however, since their output has not yet been rigorously tested by medical experts.

ABC
ABC

IMPROVED TREATMENT

Bioprinting is no doubt more effective than current methods of coping with heart attacks, which force the heart vessels open to facilitate increased blood flow. Theoretically, this print-and-patch method should work for all patients without fear of rejection.

“We haven’t succeeded in finding a solution in replacing the scar muscle or to regenerate hearts. That’s one of the holy grails of cardiovascular research at the moment and this is just one potential exciting solution,” said Kolling Institute’s Gemma Figree, a cardiologist.

This is especially relevant since, according to The Heart Foundation, someone in the US suffers a heart attack every 34 seconds, while someone dies from a heart-related disease every 60 seconds. The costs of heart disease pile up to a hefty $320.1 billion, which also accounts for foregone productivity and healthcare expenditures.

Experts from the HRI believe that the synthetic heart cells could even be used for testing drugs, particularly the side effects that might affect the patient. According to the researchers, these bioprinting methods could be available in about five years. The process will be costly however, as it is expensive to collect biological material to 3D bio-print a patch.

BIOPRINTING TECH: THE SOLUTION TO ORGAN DONOR SHORTAGES

IN BRIEF
  • Someone in the US suffers a heart attack every 34 seconds, while someone dies from a heart-related disease every 60 seconds.
  • A new method from Australia uses bioprinting to create a patch of beating cardiac cells that can be stuck directly to a damaged organ following an attack.
  • 3D bioprinting technology can be used to custom-build organs, tissues, bones, and more using a patient’s own cells, decreasing the chances of rejection.
  • An average of 22 people lose their life each year while waiting for compatible donor organs, a number that could be cut drastically by the adoption and advancement of 3D bioprinting.

NO MORE WAITING

According to the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network (OPTN), someone is added to the national transplant waiting list every ten minutes. That’s 144 new additions every day to a list that’s already over 100,000 names long.

All of those people are hopeful that today will be the day their life will be saved. Fortunately for some, it will be, but an average of 22 people lose their life each year while waiting for a compatible organ. Quite simply, the gap between organ supply and demand is just too wide.

New technology, however, could change this.

Advances in the field of 3D bioprinting are making it possible to create the organs we need for transplantation. Stem cells taken from the patient’s body are sent to a lab where they can be cultivated to become the type of organ needed. A bioprinter can then undertake the painstaking process of printing the organ using these cells, after which it will be placed in an incubator to mature. Once the organ is ready, the patient receive a fully functional organ that their body won’t reject.

Major strides have already been made in this relatively new field. This year, researchers developed the first functioning 3D-printed liver tissue and even printed a tiny heart on a chip. Teams have bioprinted skincartilage, bones, glands, “mini-brains,” and more. Seemingly every part of the human body has been the subject of a successful 3D bioprinting study.

Image Credit: 3D Print Exchange/ NIH

NO SHORTAGE OF HURDLES

Unfortunately, the barriers to widespread adoption of 3D bioprinting are many.

Growing replacement organs can be very challenging, particularly with regards to the technical intricacies involved in printing solid organs such as kidneys, hearts, and lungs. Time and money must be invested to conduct trials, study the longterm risks of compatibility, and seek approval from regulatory boards.

Perhaps one of the greatest hurdles is a lack of access to digital models of target organs. These models are necessary to ensure that the final product is scientifically accurate and medically applicable. Thankfully, the 3D Print Exchange is working to change that.

The site, spearheaded by the National Institute of Health (NIH), provides an open and interactive platform where users can browse, download, and share biomedical 3D print files, modeling tutorials, and educational materials. The hope is that making this essential information widely available will spur the adoption of 3D printing for scientific research.

Overall, the benefits of 3D bioprinting far outweigh any barriers to adoption, and progress is already being made on several fronts. Cost is decreasing, which is allowing more medical institutions to explore the possibilities offered by 3D bioprinting. Combined with easy access to research through initiatives such as the 3D Print Exchange, this will make the technology even more accessible in the future, hopefully leading us to be able to say one day soon that every person who needs an organ can have one.

THE WORLD’S FIRST 3D PRINTED ARTIFICIAL HEART CELLS

Researchers at the Wake Forest School of Medicine have created 3D printed beating artificial heart cells called Organoids.
  • The heart cells are created by first genetically modifying adult human skin cells into induced pluripotent stem cells. Then, the induced stem cells are redesigned to create the Organoids.
  • In an interview with Popular Mechanics, the researchers stated that the cells have to be stored in the same temperature as the human body to beat. The team has said that they can “stimulate the miniature organ with electrical or chemical cues to alter the beating patterns. Also, when we grow them in three-dimensions it allows for them to interact with each other more easily, as they would in the human body.”
  • The $24 million project ultimately seeks to create several types of 3D Printed lab grown organs to have it perform the actual functions of the human organs.

3D BIOPRINTED ORGANS THE ANSWER TO DONOR SHORTAGES

  • 3D bioprinting technology can be used to custom-build organs, tissues, bones, and more using a patient’s own cells, decreasing the chances of rejection.
  • An average of 22 people lose their life each year while waiting for compatible donor organs, a number that could be cut drastically by the adoption and advancement of 3D bioprinting.

NO MORE WAITING

According to the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network (OPTN), someone is added to the national transplant waiting list every ten minutes. That’s 144 new additions every day to a list that’s already over 100,000 names long.

All of those people are hopeful that today will be the day their life will be saved. Fortunately for some, it will be, but an average of 22 people lose their life each year while waiting for a compatible organ. Quite simply, the gap between organ supply and demand is just too wide.

New technology, however, could change this.

Advances in the field of 3D bioprinting are making it possible to create the organs we need for transplantation. Stem cells taken from the patient’s body are sent to a lab where they can be cultivated to become the type of organ needed. A bioprinter can then undertake the painstaking process of printing the organ using these cells, after which it will be placed in an incubator to mature. Once the organ is ready, the patient receive a fully functional organ that their body won’t reject.

Major strides have already been made in this relatively new field. This year, researchers developed the first functioning 3D-printed liver tissue and even printed a tiny heart on a chip. Teams have bioprinted skincartilage, bones, glands, “mini-brains,” and more. Seemingly every part of the human body has been the subject of a successful 3D bioprinting study.

Image Credit: 3D Print Exchange/ NIH

NO SHORTAGE OF HURDLES

Unfortunately, the barriers to widespread adoption of 3D bioprinting are many.

Growing replacement organs can be very challenging, particularly with regards to the technical intricacies involved in printing solid organs such as kidneys, hearts, and lungs. Time and money must be invested to conduct trials, study the longterm risks of compatibility, and seek approval from regulatory boards.

Perhaps one of the greatest hurdles is a lack of access to digital models of target organs. These models are necessary to ensure that the final product is scientifically accurate and medically applicable. Thankfully, the 3D Print Exchange is working to change that.

The site, spearheaded by the National Institute of Health (NIH), provides an open and interactive platform where users can browse, download, and share biomedical 3D print files, modeling tutorials, and educational materials. The hope is that making this essential information widely available will spur the adoption of 3D printing for scientific research.

Overall, the benefits of 3D bioprinting far outweigh any barriers to adoption, and progress is already being made on several fronts. Cost is decreasing, which is allowing more medical institutions to explore the possibilities offered by 3D bioprinting. Combined with easy access to research through initiatives such as the 3D Print Exchange, this will make the technology even more accessible in the future, hopefully leading us to be able to say one day soon that every person who needs an organ can have one.

  • A new ‘biofabrication institute’ is being made that will scan, model, and 3d-print patient-specific tissues in one building.
  • The ultimate goal is to 3D-print entire organs, which could save the lives of thousands of people on organ transplant lists.

A PLACE OF COLLABORATION

Most developments happening right now in the field of bioprinting come from individual laboratories that publish results that come from a controlled lab setting. At the present moment, rarely do the research institutes themselves specialize in 3D bioprinting. Instead, there is a separation between those doing the work and those using the fruits of this labor.

Driven by this emerging technology, the Queensland University of Technology (QUT), in partnership with the Metro North Hospital and Health Service, has announced that they will establish a ‘biofabrication institute’ that will scan, model, and 3d-print patient-specific tissues in one building.

Credit: QUT
Credit: QUT

The institute will occupy two floors at the Herston Health Precinct and will be capable of performing the major processes in the bioprinting process, namely: clinical scanning, 3d modeling, and tissue engineering. It will also contain learning spaces and an innovation hub.

The Minister for Health, Cameron Dick, has expressed optimism on the endeavor, saying in the Brisbane Times that it will bring together various experts in the field of medicine, science, and engineering to “deliver the best outcome for patients.”

He adds, “This institute, opening in 2017, will catapult Queensland onto the global stage as a leader in medical innovation and technology that will change the face of healthcare.”

THE ULTIMATE GOAL

The ‘end goal’ for this institute, according to QUT Biofabrication and Tissue Morphology Group Associate Professor Mia Woodruff, is the 3D-printing of an organ. The institute could speed up developments in bioprinting, which may ultimately mean the difference between life and death for people waiting for an organ donor.

Woodruff says that the 3D-printed organs are taken from a patient’s tissue and, to that end, are not rejected by the body, eliminating the need for metallic implants or extensive antibiotics.

She concludes, “Organ transplant lists are endless at the moment and we want to be able to help these people.” Other advantages that 3d-printed organs have are much more customized prostheticsdrugs tailored to a patient, and 3D-printed bones.

3D PRINTING A HUMAN HEART USING BIOLOGIAL MATERIAL

 

3D printing technology can construct actual, working bridges on Earth, build elaborate decorative accessories for your home, produce prosthetics for amputees, and (unfortunately) manufacture working firearms. Although impressive, all these innovations have something in common: they are only producing inorganic, plastic-based material. What about organic materials, say, perhaps, human organs? Wouldn’t it be great if new organs could be printed out and used in surgical operations to save people’s lives? As it turns out, a group of Carnegie Mellon researchers have managed to do almost precisely this, producing models of a variety of human organs and body parts using a hacked 3D printer bought off the shop shelves. The new research, published in the journal Science Advances, demonstrates that it is possible to replicate the heart through 3D printing.

“3-D printing of various materials has been a common trend in tissue engineering in the last decade, but until now, no one had developed a method for assembling common tissue engineering gels like collagen or fibrin,” said TJ Hinton, a graduate student in biomedical engineering at Carnegie Mellon and lead author of the study, in a statement.

Biological materials are often soft and fragile in isolation, which proved a challenge for the scientists behind the study. Soft materials tend to collapse under their own weight when printed in air, meaning that the soft objects had to be printed inside a material that could support their structure. To this end, a “bath” of chemicals – a support gel akin to an exoskeleton – was used, one that held together the fragile soft printed structure as it formed. After the printing had concluded, the support gel could then be melted away by heating it to body temperature (37°C, or 99°F), leaving the soft material within intact.

These soft materials were not mere plastic copies of biological material: collagens, muscle fibers, miniature brain structures, and branching artery patterns made of biological matter have all been produced using the technique. Most impressively, using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans of human coronary arteries and 3D images of embryonic human hearts, the team have managed to 3D print replicas of both. This type of “bioprinting” has been given the acronym of FRESH – Freeform Reversible Embedding of Suspended Hydrogels.

 

 

Printing a series of artery trees using this technique was perhaps the most substantial achievement by the team, who have produced complex biological structures with an unprecedented degree of precision. The team’s next step is to inject heart cells into these 3D printed biological tissue structures, essentially filling in the printed “scaffolding” with its biological “concrete”.

This research has obvious implications for medical science. Let’s just take one example: the heart. Human heart tissue has lost its ability to repair or regenerate itself once it is damaged. So if a heart needs to be operated on, it often requires new heart tissue. This isn’t always readily available, and the agonizing wait for a heart transplant from a donor often ends in tragedy. This waiting list could be significantly reduced by using 3D bioprinting: this FRESH technique could produce pieces of bespoke heart tissue for each specific case of heart damage.

3D bioprinters aren’t new: in this growing field of science, most of these printers cost over $100,000 (roughly £65,000) and require a specialist team of operators to use. Using a 3D printer bought by most consumers, and “hacking” it with open-source software and hardware, this research team have managed to replicate human organ structures for less than $1,000 (£650).

 

Organs animation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TaR7RCa81BQ , https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TosVOx7yjts ,

3D BIOPRINTING SOLUTION

IN BRIEF
  • Someone in the US suffers a heart attack every 34 seconds, while someone dies from a heart-related disease every 60 seconds.
  • A new method from Australia uses bioprinting to create a patch of beating cardiac cells that can be stuck directly to a damaged organ following an attack.
  • 3D bioprinting technology can be used to custom-build organs, tissues, bones, and more using a patient’s own cells, decreasing the chances of rejection.
  • An average of 22 people lose their life each year while waiting for compatible donor organs, a number that could be cut drastically by the adoption and advancement of 3D bioprinting.

NO MORE WAITING

According to the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network (OPTN), someone is added to the national transplant waiting list every ten minutes. That’s 144 new additions every day to a list that’s already over 100,000 names long.

All of those people are hopeful that today will be the day their life will be saved. Fortunately for some, it will be, but an average of 22 people lose their life each year while waiting for a compatible organ. Quite simply, the gap between organ supply and demand is just too wide.

New technology, however, could change this.

Advances in the field of 3D bioprinting are making it possible to create the organs we need for transplantation. Stem cells taken from the patient’s body are sent to a lab where they can be cultivated to become the type of organ needed. A bioprinter can then undertake the painstaking process of printing the organ using these cells, after which it will be placed in an incubator to mature. Once the organ is ready, the patient receive a fully functional organ that their body won’t reject.

Major strides have already been made in this relatively new field. This year, researchers developed the first functioning 3D-printed liver tissue and even printed a tiny heart on a chip. Teams have bioprinted skincartilage, bones, glands, “mini-brains,” and more. Seemingly every part of the human body has been the subject of a successful 3D bioprinting study.

Image Credit: 3D Print Exchange/ NIH

NO SHORTAGE OF HURDLES

Unfortunately, the barriers to widespread adoption of 3D bioprinting are many.

Growing replacement organs can be very challenging, particularly with regards to the technical intricacies involved in printing solid organs such as kidneys, hearts, and lungs. Time and money must be invested to conduct trials, study the longterm risks of compatibility, and seek approval from regulatory boards.

Perhaps one of the greatest hurdles is a lack of access to digital models of target organs. These models are necessary to ensure that the final product is scientifically accurate and medically applicable. Thankfully, the 3D Print Exchange is working to change that.

The site, spearheaded by the National Institute of Health (NIH), provides an open and interactive platform where users can browse, download, and share biomedical 3D print files, modeling tutorials, and educational materials. The hope is that making this essential information widely available will spur the adoption of 3D printing for scientific research.

Overall, the benefits of 3D bioprinting far outweigh any barriers to adoption, and progress is already being made on several fronts. Cost is decreasing, which is allowing more medical institutions to explore the possibilities offered by 3D bioprinting. Combined with easy access to research through initiatives such as the 3D Print Exchange, this will make the technology even more accessible in the future, hopefully leading us to be able to say one day soon that every person who needs an organ can have one.

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