Scientists Successfully Transplanted 3D Printed Human Body Parts Into Rats

Scientists are inching closer to printing a solution for the overwhelming number of people who need organ transplants, more than 123,000 in the US alone, as well as those who have lost body parts such as ears.

By Louise Matsakis|MOTHEROARD

Bioprinting—the process of using 3D printers to create biological tissue—has been around since the 1990s, but it has previously been impossible to create structures large and stable enough to be surgically implanted. That might not be the case anymore, according to a paper published online Monday in Nature Biotechnology.

Researchers from Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center say they have developed a printer capable of printing an array of different human body parts. There’s no doubt that clinical trials are necessary before tissues created by the printer could be inserted directly into humans, but it appears that we have come much closer to printing away many of the world’s most challenging health problems. This paper represents one of the first times that bioprinted tissues, bones, and cartilage were implanted into a mammal and survived.

“We present an integrated tissue-organ printer (ITOP) that can fabricate stable, human-scale tissue constructs of any shape,” wrote the senior author of the paper, Anthony Atala, who serves as director of the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine.

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