A bioprinter that uses living cells to print bespoke body parts.
Scientists have been exploring tissue culture for over 20 years but its development was limited due to the cells dying. However, a new breakthrough within this field has been established by the team at Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine at Winston-Salem in North Carolina.
They have developed a new bioprinter called ITOP: Integrated Tissue and Organ Printing System which uses biodegradable materials to form the structure and a water-based gel containing cells that encourages growth. The structure was implanted into animals to test its survival rate and the results were promising. The structure broke down and was replaced by a natural structure made up of proteins produced by the cells.
Anthony Atala, who directs the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine at Winston-Salem in North Carolina, described the bioprinter as an important advance. “It can fabricate stable, human-scale tissue of any shape. With further development, this technology could potentially be used to print living tissue and organ structures for surgical implantation.”
The scale of this breakthrough is astounding and may revolutionise the future of healthcare. We could potentially be seeing surgeons trialling customized printed organs and tissues within the next decade.