New technology allows scientists to 3D print body parts

Science

Bioinks are allowing scientists to print out tissue, bone, and blood vessels.

The 3D printer technology uses printable gels that contain supportive biomaterials as well as cells, according to a recent post by Dr. Francis Collins with the National Institutes of Health.

While eventually the technology could be used to print organs, a team of researchers has reached an important milestone in bioprinting the building blocks for every tissue and organ in the body. The researchers have now been able to print biomaterials that mimic the structural, mechanical, and biological properties of real human tissues.

In the video above, Carnegie Mellon University shows a life-size human heart valve that’s been printed with their improved collagen bioink. As fluid passes through the aortic valve in a lab test, its three leaf-like flaps open and close like the real thing. Additional tests show that the valve is not damaged by fluid pressure, which mimics blood flowing in and out of a beating heart.

The researchers latest version of the 3D bioprinting technique was getting better at bioprinting collagen. This version is called Freeform Reversible Embedding of Suspended Hydrogels v.2.0.

FRESH v2.0. focuses on printing a human heart, but the technology could be used for many other organ systems. The lab is sharing its designs with the scientific community to help bring more 3D scientific models online and advance the field of bioprinting.

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