BIOPRINTING: 3D-PRINTING OF ORGANS
What is bioprinting?
Bioprinting is one of the latest technology to date that allows cellular structures to be made from bio-inks containing stem cells. In this technology, the biomaterial is loaded, layer by layer, to design skin, tissues, or even organs.
3D-printing is something that has been used in making toys, house models, and scientific tools. It also has even been used for designing a plastic bunny that had DNA code for its own replication. With significant advancement in science, scientists are now thinking to implement this technology to print live, human body parts.
To date, researchers have been able to use this technology in medicine and dentistry to design dental implants, prosthetics, and models for surgeons to practice surgeries. Now scientists are also trying to print with cells that would develop into living tissues. Fully functional, transplantable human organs have not been printed yet, but pieces of tissue have been printed for several drug testing.
What is the objective behind the development of this technology?
The objective is to create organs and parts of tissues to make them suitable for transplantation and have them as long-term solutions. Moreover, 3D-printing of organs would attenuate the shortage of donor organs. This tech would even help us to study several diseases.
At present, many projects on bioprinting are in progress. To date, a mini heart, a mini liver, a kidney, and some more model live organs have been developed using this technology.
Creating vasculature in a 3D organ is one of the biggest challenges that has been overcome in the recent past. After the patches were engrafted into a mouse’s liver, in the Organovo study, in which the blood was delivered to the liver by the surrounding tissues.
It is now possible to construct human-scale tissues and organs that can potentially mature into vascularized and partially-functional tissue. The technology is still lagging due to complexities in tissue-specific extracellular matrices (ECM) and the tissue maturation process.
Future of Bioprinting
Thus, 3D-bioprinting is at its developing stage. To push the frontiers of medicine, scientists need to overcome technical challenges to create tissue-specific bio-inks and tissue maturation process. This technology will soon have a huge impact on the lives of patients. It is also predicted that many patients will be reliant on the future of 3D-bioprinting in the upcoming days.
Written By Saurabh Dey.