Scientists have taken a step closer to bio-print transplantable blood vessels and organs.
A group of scientists from the Universities of Sydney, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Stanford and Harvard claim to have bio-printed artificial vascular networks, which mimics a human body's circulatory system. The vascular networks are required in the human body for the growth of large complex tissues and organs. Scientists suggest that blood vessels are required to transport blood to the 3D-printed tissue or organ and without proper vascular network tissues and organs will not function, which will make 3D printing of organs worthless.
Dr Luiz Bertassoni of the University of Sydney, who is the lead author of the study, suggests that cells in the body need oxygen, nutrients along with an effective "waste disposal" system to sustain life. Vascular networks are extremely important for this purpose. However, it has been very challenging for scientists to recreate a network of blood vessels in the lab. The latest technique gives scientists a glimpse of hope to create blood vessels via bio-printing.
With the bio-printing technique, scientists may be able to recreate functional human organs and blood vessels from the patient's stem cells. The 3D-printed artificial organ can prove to be live saving when transplanted to a patient.
"While recreating little parts of tissues in the lab is something that we have already been able to do, the possibility of printing three-dimensional tissues with functional blood capillaries in the blink of an eye is a game changer," says Bertassoni. "Of course, simplified regenerative materials have long been available, but true regeneration of complex and functional organs is what doctors really want and patients really need, and this is the objective of our work."
The scientists suggest that thousands of people around the world die due to organ failures every year. Many patients die around the world due to lack of donor organs or because they did not get a transplant soon enough. If scientists are able to recreate functional organs then it may save thousands of lives every year.
The discovery of the latest bio-printing technique will help scientists to accelerate the required research in this field, which can ultimately lead to transplant of organs printed in labs. However, scientists suggest that a lot of research is needed in the field before they get to the actual transplantation stage of bio-printed organs.