A new method of 3D printing can produce human-sized bone, muscle, and cartilage that survive when implanted into animals. It's potentially a giant step towards fabricated replacement tissue and organs in humans. Matthew Stock reports.
This synthetic ear could be a breakthrough in regenerative medicine. It was produced using a 3D bioprinter at the Wake Forest School of Medicine. The team used a process they've called the "Integrated Tissue and Organ Printing System." Here, the 3D bioprinter produces a network of tiny channels that allow the printed tissue to be nourished after being implanted into a living animal. The researchers produced three types of tissue - bone, cartilage, and muscle - and transplanted it into rats and mice. They found it was still viable for weeks or months at a time after implantation. As well as an ear, they also printed part of a human skull and jawbone. Results with 3D-printed skeletal muscle were equally impressive, say the researchers. The study was published this week in the journal Nature Biotechnology.