“Printing” organs just got closer to reality

November 14th, 2007 - 10:14 am ICT by admin  
Gabor Forgacs, a researcher at the university, has revealed that the process involves accumulation of spheres containing 10,000 to 40,000 cells on to the organic sheet.

Upon being placed on the sheet the spheres begin to fuse into one structure, much the same way that drops of water will fuse to form a larger drop of water, the researcher adds.

“If you wait for a long time, eventually all the small spheres will fuse into one large sphere. To prevent that from happening, we can remove the bio-paper and stop the fusion process once the desired shape has formed. Through this bio-printing process, we were able to build, for the first time, functional tissue structures,” Forgacs said.

There have been two concerns with printing extended tissue structures using large amounts of cells. First, scientists needed to determine how to get specific cells to the correct locations within the structures. Second, even though the right cells might be in the right place within the structure, there was a problem of how to make an organ start working.

However, Forgacs says that the new study appears to solve these problems.

Since thousands of cells are added to the bio-paper under controlled conditions, the cells migrate automatically to their specific locations to make the structure form correctly, he says.

According to the researchers, nature was the answer to the second question. They took cells from a chicken heart and used them to form bio-ink particles, which were then printed on to thick sheets.

When the bio-ink particles were first printed, the cells did not beat in unison, but as the cellular spheroids fused, the structure eventually started beating just as a heart does.

“This study shows that we can use multiple cell types and that we do not have to control what happens when the cells fuse together. Nature is smart enough to do the job,” Forgacs said.

The researcher believe that providing human tissue structures that resemble organs to the drug companies will make drug testing cheaper and much more efficient.

The study is being published in an upcoming edition of Tissue Engineering. (ANI)

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