Harvard bioengineers say they have taken a big step toward using 3-D printers to make living tissue. They’ve made a machine with multiple printer heads that each extrudes a different biological building block to make complex tissue and blood vessels.
Their work represents a significant advance toward producing living medical models upon which drugs could be tested for safety and effectiveness.
It also advances the ball in the direction of an even bigger goal. Such a machine and the techniques being refined by researchers offer a glimpse of the early steps in a sci-fi healthcare scenario: One day surgeons might feed detailed CT scans of human body parts into a 3-D printer, manipulate them with design software, and produce healthy replacements for diseased or injured tissues or organs.
“This is the foundational step toward creating 3-D living tissue,” said Jennifer Lewis, senior author of the study published Feb. 18 in the journal Advanced Materials, in a university release. … (Read more)