*NEWS*NEW PAPER ADVANCES ORGAN PRINTING
*NEWS*NEW PAPER ADVANCES ORGAN PRINTING
2005-11-22 at 11:05:00 am #13327
New Paper Advances Organ Printing
2005- Thin sheets of a gel-like material could help advance organ
printing, a technology that uses a printer and cell-laden ink to turn
out living tissues, blood vessels and organs.
The research, reported
in a recent issue of Physical Review Letters, represents a new model
for this branch of tissue engineering and could benefit the millions of
people worldwide who suffer from damage to organs such as kidneys and
“It’s basically enabling part of the technology. If you
don’t have a good bio-paper and bio-ink, you’re not going to get
anywhere,” said Glenn Prestwich, presidential professor at the
University of Utah.
Prestwich collaborated on the research with
scientists from the University of Missouri and the Medical University
of South Carolina.
The idea behind organ printing is relatively
simple: print cells onto thin sheets of biodegradable paper; stack
thousands of sheets of the paper on top of each other; when the paper
disintegrates, the cells will be left intact to form a
three-dimensional shape, such as a hollow blood vessel.
scientists have tried different materials to use as the paper,
including agarose, which is made from seaweed extract, and collagen,
which is a protein found naturally in the body.
Agarose does not
work well in organ printing because it does not biodegrade. Collagen
biodegrades, but it also has a tendency to contract and shrink, which
makes it difficult to get nutrients in and out of the embedded cells.
new bio-paper developed by Prestwich and his team biodegrades without
shrinking. It is made by connecting long molecular chains of sugar,
which result in a jello-like hydrogel.
The cells are mixed in with
the gel and put into a standard inkjet printer cartridge. The machine
then spits out a gel sheet embedded with cellular dots containing a
minuscule amount – about 1 microliter each.
The bio-paper capitalizes on the natural ability of cells to repair tissue.
embedded into the bio-paper secrete enzymes that eat up the hydrogel;
produce a biological matrix for new cells; and they multiple and divide
to create new cells. Eventually, the cells migrate, fuse together, and
become a functioning tissue.
“Printing technology is really the next
frontier in terms of the generation of tissues and organs,” said
Anthony Atala, director of the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative
Medicine at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, N.C.
Cells can already be painted by hand onto a biological scaffold.
“This is analogous to going from a handheld paint brush to an air brush,” he said.
challenge is figuring out what printing method works best for what
tissue and how best to incorporate the blood vessel network into the
tissue to deliver nutrients to the cells.
To date, Prestwich, who is
also the founder of Salt Lake City-based Sentrx Surgical, a company
licensed to use this technology, and his team have been able to create
tubular shapes like blood vessels.
He hopes that within three to six years, a version of this technology could be available to patients.
Print Skin with Inkjet Printers
You have a printer. What would you normally do with it? Print
documents, probably forms and even a few photographs? Did you ever
think you could print skin for yourself? How about organs, or even
If you think I’ve lost all of my senses, you are more wrong than Bill Gates was about future memory requirements.
what exactly am I talking about? Researchers at the University of
Manchester have developed an exciting technology where you take cells
from the patient’s body and feed them into the computer. The system
then analyses and multiplies them to the required level, which then
fills up as “ink” in the first cartridge while the second cartridge
contains the necessary gel. Once the process has started, multiple
print layers ensure that a complex 3D skin is created and the
dimensions are exactly as required.
Perhaps Adobe needs to come up
with a plug-in for this in Photoshop. What if I want my skin to be a
different color? I don’t want to go through the pain of a tattoo, so I
just feed in some of my cells, make some funky designs on the skin and
slap them on me. It’s fairly simple, unless you want to get to the
complexities of how it works.
Similarly, researchers at Cambridge
have just used Inkjet technology to create a 14″ OLED screen for
notebook computers. Again, since we are using printers, I could get my
notebook screen in whatever shape I desire. Since they are printing it,
it’s obviously pretty thin, and for all we know, I might even be able
to fold away my TV whenever I don’t need it, assuming we use specific
polymers to make that happen.
This gets me thinking about the
possibilities. Lets leave medical science to the doctors as they are
far more adept at it, but I must tell you that the Inkjets used here
were really not too different from the printers we buy for our
Imagine the speed and cost cutting that hardware
designers could achieve if 3D modelling became feasible and
commercially available. Say you wanted to design a gaming wheel, or
indeed a whole car. You won’t have to sit with a model shop
representative creating scaled models using foam or other applications.
All you would have to is design the product of your choice using
AutoCAD or whatever 3D modeling software catches your fancy and hit
print. The printer will then proceed to build an exact replica of
whatever you designed.
This gives the designer a lot more control
over the way 3D models get created, and it saves time and finances for
companies, which they can pass on to their customers (alright, they
probably won’t but I have the right to dream, don’t I?).
if we really get the concept of cloning and duplicating cells, wouldn’t
this technology make life easier (or not)? Imagine you want a 60watt
bulb for your house. All you would have to do is feed 60watt and put in
some broken glass; the printer will then proceed to print the bulb for
you. This may be far fetched, but who knows?
Could we take cloning
and Inkjet technology far enough to generate entire human beings? That
would really cause uproar in some communities, but staying on the less
controversial side, maybe I could print two 7800GTXs, a motherboard and
an X2 CPU to build my latest and greatest PC. Oh well, maybe I really
have lost my hat this time, but it would be an interesting
technological development nonetheless.