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Researchers engineer complex human tissue using 3D printing in lab, capable of living for 30 days

India Today logo India Today 11-06-2021 India Today Web Desk
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With medical technology going through a revolutionary period, 3-dimensional printing could add new dimensions to the advancement of the field. A group of researchers have now managed to use 3D printing to construct a cube-shaped tissue in the lab. The 3D-printed tissue is capable of functioning for 30 days.

The constructed tissue is about one centimetre thick.

The new development is part of the Vascular Tissue Challenge organised by Nasa in which two teams won the competition aimed at accelerating tissue engineering innovations to benefit people on Earth and future astronauts set to explore Moon and Mars. The two teams were from Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine (WFIRM) in North Carolina. Of the two teams, WINSTON completed the trials first and is set to receive $300,000 and get to advance its research aboard the International Space Station (ISS).

"The research may help enable the growth and long-term survival of thick three-dimensional tissues for research and therapeutic applications, and eventually organ bandages and replacements," Nasa said in a statement adding that more advancement is needed in the field.

Also Read: From Chandrayaan-3 to Artemis, countries rush to Moon with a desire to stay

The new technology, still in its nascent stage, if successful, would help in artificial organs development from a patient's own cells, and reduce long transplant waitlists and in the long term could lead to end the organ shortage. Nasa in its competition briefing had asked teams to develop and test strategies for making tissues with functional artificial blood vessels.

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The research will now be tested onboard the international space station. (Photo: Nasa)

It is to be noted that tissues rely on blood vessels to supply cells with nutrients and oxygen and remove metabolic waste through a process known as perfusion. It is extremely difficult to recreate perfusion in engineered tissues. In a bid to overcome the challenge, the winning team used 3D printing technologies to create gel-like moulds, or scaffolds, with a network of channels designed to maintain sufficient oxygen and nutrient levels to keep the constructed tissues alive for their 30-day trials.

"It will be exceptional to hear about the first artificial organ transplant one day and think this novel NASA challenge might have played a small role in making it happen," said Jim Reuter, NASA associate administrator for space technology.

As the team gets to further its research and test on the Space Station it could help analyse "how radiation exposure affects the human body, document organ function in microgravity, and develop strategies to minimize damage to healthy cells while living or working in space," Nasa added.

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