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Printing Human Skin, Organs and Tissue
02-20-2011, 04:36 AM,
Information  Printing Human Skin, Organs and Tissue
Quote:Researchers are developing a specialized skin "printing" system that could be used in the future to treat soldiers wounded on the battlefield.
Scientists at the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine were inspired by standard inkjet printers found in many home offices.
"We started out by taking a typical desktop inkjet cartridge. Instead of ink we use cells, which are placed in the cartridge," said Dr. Anthony Atala, director of the institute.
The device could be used to rebuild damaged or burned skin.
The project is in pre-clinical phases and may take another five years of development before it is ready to be used on human burn victims, he said.
Other universities, including Cornell University and the Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, are working on similar projects and will speak on the topic on Sunday at the American Association for the Advancement of Science conference in Washington. These university researchers say organs -- not just skin -- could be printed using similar techniques.
Burn injuries account for 5% to 20% of combat-related injuries, according to the Armed Forces Institute of Regenerative Medicine. The skin printing project is one of several projects at Wake Forest largely funded by that institute, which is a branch of the U.S. Department of Defense.
Wake Forest will receive approximately $50 million from the Defense Department over the next five years to fund projects, including the skin-creating system.
Researchers developed the skin "bio-printer" by modifying a standard store-bought printer. One modification is the addition of a three-dimensional "elevator" that builds on damaged tissue with fresh layers of healthy skin.
The skin-printing process involves several steps. First, a small piece of skin is taken from the patient. The sample is about half the size of a postage stamp, and it is taken from the patient by using a chemical solution.
Those cells are then separated and replicated on their own in a specialized environment that catalyzes this cell development.
"We expand the cells in large quantities. Once we make those new cells, the next step is to put the cells in the printer, on a cartridge, and print on the patient," Atala said.
The printer is then placed over the wound at a distance so that it doesn't touch the burn victim. "It's like a flat-bed scanner that moves back and forth and put cells on you," said Atala.
Once the new cells have been applied, they mature and form new skin.
Specially designed printer heads in the skin bio-printer use pressurized nozzles -- unlike those found in traditional inkjet printers.
The pressure-based delivery system allows for a safe distance between the printer and the patient and can accommodate a variety of body types, according to a 2010 report from the Armed Forces Institute of Regenerative Medicine.
The device can fabricate healthy skin in anywhere from minutes to a few hours, depending on the size and type of burn, according to the report.
"You are building up the cells layer after layer after layer," Atala said.
Acquiring an adequate sample can be a challenge in victims with extensive burns, he said, since there is sometimes "not enough (skin) to go around with a patient with large burns," Atala said.
The sample biopsy would be used to grow new cells then placed in the printer cartridge, said Atala.
Researchers said it is difficult to speculate when the skin printer may be brought to the battlefield, because of the stringent regulatory steps for a project of this nature. Once the skin-printing device meets federal regulations, military officials are optimistic it will benefit the general population as well as soldiers.
"We're not making anything military-unique," said Terry Irgens, a program director at the U.S Army Medical Materiel Development Activity.
"We hope it will benefit both soldier and civilian," he said.
In the meantime, researchers said they're pleased with results of preliminary laboratory testing with the skin printer.
Atala said the researchers already have been able to make "healthy skin."
03-22-2011, 08:01 PM,
RE: Printing Skin
This is just too weird but it makes sense. I don't have issue with printing tissue. There is an element of psychology that may intrude on this, that of people being replaceable.

If this lives up to the hype it would put a major damper on the legal and black market organ trade rings and cartels as a major plus.

I had heard you can just regenerate your own tissue though given a process of taking a lining from a pig's stomach or some other DNA manifestation accelerating agent. Applying it in powdered form and in a few weeks and a couple treatments - voila you have re-grown a finger, toe or ear you may have accidentally had lopped off in the lumberjack games.

That was discovered in the 70s.

This is a more patentable variation that achieves the same ends albeit more synthetically.

Stumbled on this article published today in my feed with some more details on the innovation and figured I'd add it to the thread.

Quote:Making Medical Miracles With Inkjet Printers
March 22, 2011
By Michael Haederle

Bioprinting allows researchers to create replacement human tissue and output it on equipment similar to what came free in your desktop bundle.

You’ve probably owned an inkjet printer or two — one of those homely plastic boxes that performs mundane functions like scanning pictures and spitting out boarding passes while running through pricy ink cartridges like nobody’s business.

Where most of us behold an unremarkable piece of office equipment, Tao Xu sees a mechanical marvel. He has helped to pioneer ways to use those same inkjet devices to “print” cardiac tissue to repair a sick heart or create precise micro-assays that will slash the cost of testing new drugs.

Xu, an assistant engineering professor at the University of Texas at El Paso, is one of a growing number of scientists experimenting with the technique known as bioprinting. Researchers at the Medical University of South Carolina are trying to grow kidneys with printers, for example, while a team at Wake Forest University is developing a printer-based method to grow new tissue in burn wounds.

Xu recently received a three-year $423,000 grant from the National Institutes of Health to perfect cardiac patches containing cells cultured from a patient’s own tissue and tiny oxygen-releasing particles that should promote their growth. If they work, these patches could be an important new treatment for people suffering from cardiomyopathy, a disease process that weakens the heart’s pumping ability.

Damaged heart cells don’t regenerate well on their own, so they need an external cell source, Xu explains. Earlier research that involved injecting stem cells directly into the heart didn’t work because there wasn’t enough oxygen or nutrients for them to thrive, he says.

Enter the cardiac patch (which, Xu hastens to add, is still in the testing stage).

“We’re trying to fabricate the patch with a scaffold,” he says, explaining that inkjet heads can precisely deposit tiny droplets containing stem cells and oxygen particles onto a biodegradable substrate woven from nanofibers spun out of polylactic acid.

After the inkjet deposits a layer of cells and oxygen, another layer of substrate is added, then more cells and so on, creating a multilayer sandwich of organic material that could be implanted in a patient suffering from heart failure.

“We can keep going to however many layers you want,” Xu says, noting that a 10-by-10-by-2-millimeter cardiac patch might contain 5 million stem cells. Having an adequate supply of cells is important, “otherwise it won’t work at all.”

Xu hopes to have a patch available for animal testing by the end of his three-year grant. If all goes well, he plans to mount human trials in collaboration with researchers at Texas Tech University.

Biomedical researchers first saw the potential of thermal inkjet technology as it came into widespread use back in the 1990s, Xu says. But early experiments focused on printing organic molecules like DNA, not living cells.

When he arrived at Clemson University for his Ph.D. study nine years ago, Xu used ordinary off-the-shelf printers made by Hewlett Packard and Canon. Some inkjet nozzles can pass droplets as small as 10 microns (a micron is one-millionth of a meter), but most cells are in the 40- to 50-micron range, so different size nozzles are used for different purposes.

A key proof of concept, Xu recalls, came when the Clemson team showed that most of the cells could survive being squeezed through the ink jet heads, which can fire 15,000 times per second and operate at temperatures of 250-350 degrees Celsius.

Cells show “a little bit of heating, but it’s only on the surface,” he says. About 90 percent of cells remain viable after they are deposited on the substrate.

Researchers start with ordinary ink-filled cartridges, which are emptied, cleaned and sterilized before being refilled with cell-rich liquid solutions — a kind of “bio-ink.” Meanwhile, Xu confesses to prowling eBay looking for used, older-model printers suitable for his experiments.

After earning his doctorate, Xu did post-graduate research at Wake Forest University’s Institute of Regenerative Medicine, headed by Anthony Atala.

There, “we advanced the technology and tested quite a lot with animals,” Xu remembers. He also figured out how to print stem cells taken from amniotic fluid. “I demonstrated it was able to form bone tissue in animal models,” Xu says.

Atala, who has made headlines with his lab’s bold efforts to engineer replacement organs, such as bladders and heart valves, is developing a bio-printing method to repair burned skin. This approach starts with an infrared scanner that hovers over the wound, measuring the depth and dimensions of the crater-like injury.

Burn wounds need daily debriding for the first few weeks to remove dead and dying tissue, Atala says. Meanwhile, samples of the patient’s skin cells are cultured to make new cells. “Within two to three weeks you can have enough cells to cover the patient,” he says. “You can cover large areas with it.”

Once the wound’s healthy edges are apparent, the printing device deposits new cells in discrete layers. “We’ve actually already done it in rodents,” Atala says of the technique. Their wounds take three weeks to heal, whereas it takes five weeks to heal from a conventional skin graft.

He estimates the technology could be commercially available for human use within five years.

Meanwhile, Atala is also using the scan-and-print method to reconstruct solid organs. “That’s where this technology is very amenable to its application,” he says.

UTEP’s Xu sees other potential applications for bioprinting, such as screening new pharmaceutical compounds for their efficacy.

Current approaches to testing promising-but-expensive new compounds (which might cost as much as $100,000 a nanogram) employ a robotic system that deposits microliter-sized droplets onto cells to see whether it has any effect.

But because inkjet nozzles are so small, they can deliver candidate drugs in picoliters — billionths of a liter — onto equally small cell samples.

The cost comparison: $200 per dot using the robotic method versus mere pennies per sample using bio-printing, Xu says. He says he has received inquiries from printer manufacturers about commercializing the technology. “We know each other pretty well. They know what we are doing.”
Full Article:
There are no others, there is only us.
09-18-2011, 03:40 PM,
RE: Printing Human Skin Organs and Tissue
Quote:Artificial Blood Vessels Created On a 3D Printer

"A team at Fraunhofer Institute in Germany has managed to create artificial blood vessels with a 3D printer that may come to be used for transplants of lab-created organs. From the article: 'To print something as small and complex as a blood vessel, the scientists combined the 3D printing technology with two-photon polymerisation — shining intense laser beams onto the material to stimulate the molecules in a very small focus point.'"
Full Story:
There are no others, there is only us.

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