Hundreds of thousands of people are currently on the transplant list, waiting to be donated to vital organs such as kidneys, hearts and livers to be saved, but the reality is not always available. meet that need. So what if instead of waiting, we created completely new institutions, would that be possible?
This idea is the basis of Bioprinting technology (biotechnology in printing - a branch of regenerative medicine) is being developed. At the moment, this technology cannot print complex organs, but simpler tissues such as blood vessels and ducts responsible for nutrient and waste metabolism are within reach.
Bioprinting is similar to 3D printing (a technique of layering materials together to create a three-dimensional object), but instead of using metal, plastic, etc. Bioprinting uses Bioink (biological ink - a printing material containing living cells), most of Bioink are Hydrogel molecules. Mixed with millions of living cells as well as different chemicals encourage cells to communicate and grow.
Some Bioinks consist of one type of cell, while others combine different types to create more complex structures. For example, you want to print a piece of cartilage on your knee that keeps your shin and thigh bones from grinding together. It's made up of cells called Chondrocytes and you'll need a healthy source of ingredients to create the right type of Bioink. These cells may come from cells grown in a laboratory or may be taken from the patient's own tissue to create cartilage tissue that is less likely to be eliminated by the body.
The most common bio-printing technique is Bioink, which is loaded into the printing chamber and pushed through a circular nozzle attached to a nozzle smaller than 400 microns in diameter and able to produce a continuous filament. A computerized image or file will specify the location of the thread. These printers are very fast, creating cartilage in about half an hour. After printing, some Bioink will harden immediately, others need ultraviolet light or an additional chemical or physical process to stabilize the structure.
If the printing process is successful, cells in the synthetic tissue will begin to behave in the same way as cells do in real tissue: signaling to each other, exchanging nutrients and multiplying. We are now able to print relatively simple structures, in addition the researchers have created lung, skin and cartilage tissue, as well as miniaturized, semi-functional versions of the kidney, liver and heart. However, recreating the complex biochemical environment of an organ is a major challenge.
Biological printing with current technology can destroy a significant percentage of the cells in the ink if the nozzle is too small or if the print pressure is too high. One of the most formidable challenges is how to provide oxygen and nutrients to all cells in a full sized organ. That's why we have just succeeded with flat or hollow structures and are busy developing ways to incorporate blood vessels into printed tissue.
Bioprinting technology has tremendous potential to improve our understanding of how organs work and open new doors for medicine. Can we prolong human life by printing and replacing damaged organs?