Breakthrough in regenerative medicine: Stepping closer to personalized 3D organ printing and transplantation

This week is no less exciting than the last week. Last week gravitational waves were spotted for the first time in history, confirming a century old theory of Albert Einstein. This week of Feb 15th started with the publication of a breakthrough medical technology and one of the finest achievements in the scientific endeavors. Researchers at Wake Forest School of Medicine, North Carolina published their findings on successful 3D printing and in vivo survival of ear, muscle and bone tissue in a premier scientific journal, Nature Biotechnology.

Researchers from Wake Forest have created a 3D printer called as Integral Tissue-Organ Printer (ITOP) that uses biodegradable plastic-like polymers and hydrogel containing living cells to print three dimensional organs. The printed scaffold contains microchannel to support the diffusion of nutrients and oxygen to the embedded cells. Implantation studies showed that the 3D printed tissue survived after the implantation in rodents and developed extracellular matrix and supporting tissue. This is the first time scientists have report success with such stable and large enough 3D printed organs.

Are we opening the new doors to an era where physicians will be able to print the personalized organs derived from the patient’s own cells? Will this technology solve the issues of long wait time to avail the organs and the problem of organ rejection of donated organs? These are few questions that will be tested with time and ongoing research. We may need improved technology to print stable, large enough, complex organs that can mimic functions of natural organs and integrate with the human physiology. Nevertheless, the invention at Wake Forest School of Medicine is a stepping stone to solve these complex unmet medical needs.

We are proud to have one of the co-authors of the above research work as an editorial board member of one of our JSciMed Central journals. Congratulations to the authors and to Wake Forest School of Medicine!

Written By: JSciMed Central

Source: A 3D bioprinting system to produce human-scale tissue constructs with structural integrity, Kang et al. Nature Biotechnology, Feb 2016 (http://nature.com/articles/doi:10.1038/nbt.3413)