In August of last year, we released a story about how chief scientist of synthetic biology at the NASA Ames Research Center, Lynn Rothschild, and Diana Gentry, were working on a project to 3D print “biomaterials out of thin air.” The team has been hard at work and has relayed some of their progress towards 3D printing synthetic biomaterials using cellular arrays.
Not dissimilar from other methods of bioprinting, the researchers believe that they can 3D print cellular arrays that will secrete organic materials like wood, mineral parts of bone and tooth enamel. As Rothschild puts it to TechCrunch, “Cells produce an enormous array of products on the Earth, everything from wool to silk to rubber to cellulose, you name it, not to mention meat and plant products and the things that we eat. Many of these things are excreted (from cells). So you’re not going to take a cow or a sheep or a probably not a silk worm or a tree to Mars. But you might want to have a very fine veneer of either silk or wood. So instead of taking the whole organism and trying to make something, why couldn’t you do this all in a very precise way – which actually may be a better way to do it on Earth as well – so that you’re printing an array of cells that then can secrete or produce these products?” … (Read more)