3D tissue offers transplant hope

World

(KSL) – In recent years engineers have used 3D printers to create everything from auto parts, and artificial limbs to guns, and even food. Now, a team of University of Utah biomedical engineers has come up with a way to 3D print cells to produce human tissue such as ligaments and tendons, and someday, even organs. It’s a development that gives some transplant patients hope to live for.

“This is a significant leap,” says Dr. Robert Bowles, an assistant professor of biomedical engineering at the University of Utah. His team has taken a big step towards someday replacing damaged ligaments, tendons, or ruptured discs for patients with new tissue printed from a 3D printer head.

In their process, they take stem cells from the patient’s body fat, and print them onto a collagen gel to form a tendon or ligament.

“It flows down onto the tissue,” he says, referring to the placement of the cells.

That tissue can then be grown in an incubator before being implanted.

“It allows us to produce tendons and ligaments that can actually integrate into the body when a surgeon places them,” Bowles explains.

This process could create replacement tissues for patients without having to harvest from other sites.

“The next step is actually using it to produce tissues and organs,” he says. “It opens the door for creating more complicated organs and tissues that we couldn’t create before.”

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