News Brief by Akash Pillai
The 3-D printing revolution has opened many new exciting possibilities in medicine, including that of fabricating entirely new organs to use in organ transplants. The Regenerative Biomaterials and Therapeutics Group at Carnegie Mellon University, led by Dr. Adam Feinberg, recently published a study in Science Advances where they showed how they were able to 3-D print several model organs with an unexpected amount of detail. Conventional 3-D printing techniques which print layer by layer rely on hard materials such as metals and plastics to create objects. However, Feinberg’s team figured out how to use soft materials such as collagen, fibrins, and alginates by using a novel method known as FRESH- “Freeform Reversible Embedding of Suspended Hydrogels”. This technique ensures that the bio-printed organ does not fall apart like Jell-O because it provides another “support gel”, which can easily be melted away without damaging the organ. They were successfully able to print models of hearts, arteries, bones and even brains. Furthermore, the group managed to accomplish all of this using free open source software and off-the-shelf $1000 3-D printers, which stands in stark contrast with expensive bio-printers that cost upwards of $100,000. Currently, the group is working towards being able to grow heart tissue from a few heart cells using a 3-D printed tissue-scaffolding on which the cardiac muscle can form.
Carnegie Mellon University. (2015, October 23). Researchers hack off-the-shelf 3-D printer towards rebuilding the heart: Models of hearts, arteries, bones and brains are 3-D printed out of biological materials. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 6, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/10/151023174912.htm