"All the World's a Stage We Pass Through" R. Ayana

Wednesday, 30 March 2016

Bioprinting Body Parts

Bioprinting Body Parts
Scientists Just 3D Printed a Transplantable Human Ear

Scientists Just 3D Printed a Transplantable Human Ear 
Credit: Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine

Scientists have developed an innovative 3D bioprinter capable of generating replacement tissue that’s strong enough to withstand transplantation. To show its power, the scientists printed a jaw bone, muscle, and cartilage structures, as well as a stunningly accurate human ear.

After nearly 10 years in development, a research team led by Anthony Atala from Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine has unveiled the Integrated Tissue and Organ Printing System (ITOP). Once refined and proven safe in humans, these 3D bioprinted structures could be used to replace injured, missing, or diseased tissue in patients. And because they’re designed in a computer, these replacement parts will be made to order to meet the unique needs of each patient. The details of this breakthrough were published today in Nature Biotechnology.

Scientists Just 3D Printed a Transplantable Human Ear
 Credit: Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine/Nature Biology

Bioprinters work the same way that conventional 3D printers do, using additive manufacturing to build complex structures layer by layer. But instead of using plastics, resins, and metals, bioprinters use special biomaterials that closely approximate functional, living tissue.

But existing bioprinters cannot fabricate tissues of the right size or strength. Their products end up being far too weak and structurally unstable for surgical transplantation. They also cannot print more delicate structures like blood vessels, or vasculature. Without these ready-made blood vessels, cells cannot be supplied with critical nutrients and oxygen.

“Cells simply cannot survive without a blood vessel supply that’s smaller than 200 microns [0.07 inches], which is extremely small,” Atala told Gizmodo. “That’s the maximum distance. And that’s not just for printing, that’s nature.” He said it’s the “limiting factor” that has made bioprinting a particularly challenging technological proposition.

Scientists Just 3D Printed a Transplantable Human Ear

 Credit: Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine

The new bioprinting system overcomes each of these shortcomings. Biodegradable plastic-like (polymer) materials are used to form the tissue shape, and a water-based gel delivers the cells to the structure (the gels aren’t toxic to the cells). A temporary outer structure helps to maintain the object’s shape during the printing process. To address the size limit, the researchers embedded microchannels into the design that allow nutrients and oxygen to be transported to cells anywhere within the structure.

“We basically recreated capillaries, creating microchannels that acted like a capillary bed,” said Atala.

Scientists Just 3D Printed a Transplantable Human Ear
 Credit: Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine

To test their 3D-printed bio-parts, the researchers performed a number of experiments on live animals. Human-sized external ears were implanted under the skin of mice. After two months, the ears still maintained their shape, and cartilage tissue and blood vessels had formed. Printed muscle tissues were implanted in rats, and like the ears, they too maintained structural integrity.

Stem cells were used to create fragments of jaw bones, which were transplanted in rats. Five months later, the structures had formed vascularized bone tissue. In the future, 3D-printed bones could be used for facial reconstructions in humans.

Scientists Just 3D Printed a Transplantable Human Ear

 Vascularization of a 3D printed ear after three months. Credit: Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine/Nature Biology

Scientists Just 3D Printed a Transplantable Human Ear

 Immunofluorescent images show 3D printed muscle organization from one to three days. Credit: Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine/Nature Biology

Atala said his team’s 3D-printed tissues appear to have the right size, strength, and function for use in humans. Their system can generate human-scale, structurally stable tissues in virtually any shape, and parts can be modeled in a computer according to the precise physical needs of a patient.

Once the structures are proven safe and effective, the researchers can start to think about human trials. However, “We’re still looking at the safety of these things,” Atala conceded. “It’s still going to be a while—we still have to go through a lot of testing.”

See [Nature Biotechnology]

Growing New Teeth Could Be A Possibility With These Stem Cell Dental Implants


Credit: Science Burger
Credit: Science Burger


Stem cell dental implants that grow right in your mouth could replace artificial implants.

In a promising article published in the Journal of Dental Research, a professor and a group of researchers explained their new method of tooth regeneration and express high hopes for this method in replacing current artificial dental implants.

Stem cell research has been on the rise for quite some time, as these cells are highly transformable and can repair tissue by continually dividing into either a new stem cell for further growth or a specialized cell. The specialized cell would eventually have a job, and includes red blood cells, skin cells, or muscle cells.

In the case of these new stem cell transplants, stem cells from mice were mixed with human gum cells and transplanted into adult mouse kidneys. The cells grew into “recognisable tooth structures coated in enamel with viable developing roots.” The cells taken from human gum tissue were epithelial “surface lining” cells those taken from mouse embryos were mesenchymal stem cells. The mesenchymal cells are very diverse, as they can develop into a wide range of structures such as bone, cartilage, and fat.

Professor Paul Sharpe, who led the research team at King’s College London, explained:

“Epithelial cells derived from adult human gum tissue are capable of responding to tooth-inducing signals from embryonic tooth mesenchyme in an appropriate way to contribute to tooth crown and root formation.”

The research still has some ways to go because the group has the added challenge of finding a way for adult human mesenchymal cells to react in the same ways as embryonic. Leaving embryonic stem cells out of this groundbreaking finding is what could make the dental treatment more viable for the market, since stem cells from embryo raise questions of morality. Sharpe adds:

“We’ve shown in the lab that you can use epithelial adult cells with tooth-inducing mesenchymal cells from embryos and we’ve shown that embryonic epithelial cells with mesenchymal adult cells can grow new teeth. Now we need to combine adult epithelial and adult mesenchymal cells. It’s one of the last pieces of the puzzle.”

If the research team develops a way to make the two adult human cells to work as well as adult and embryonic cells, this could make the treatment more cost effective and better for patients seeking implants. The procedure and healing time are much more efficient than artificial implants, not to mention these stem cell implants will last forever.

Do you think that people will be willing to have a tooth grow in their mouth in the place of having artificial implants surgically inserted?

For more information about 3d printing see http://nexusilluminati.blogspot.com/search/label/3d%20printing 
For more information about artificial organs see http://nexusilluminati.blogspot.com/search/label/artificial%20organs 
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