Have a Heart
A scientific team at Carnegie Mellon University has just unveiled a 3D-bioprinting set-up that can be employed to generate soft interior body organs. Up until now, 3D-bioprinting has, for the most part, involved using components that supply their own structural support through their own intrinsic rigidity, for example, replacement bone structures that are made out of titanium. But when dealing with trying to replicate soft organs in the body, a structural problem arises during printing in that subsequent layers do not have the required underpinning support from previous layers. The Carnegie Mellon University group led by Adam Feinberg have shown that bioprinting of soft tissues like hearts can be done using a method referred to as Freeform Reversible Embedding of Suspended Hydrogels or FRESH. The technique, involves printing the gel that will make the walls of the soft tissue completely within the confines of a second supporting gel allowing the soft-tissue organ to be synthesised. As with other bioprinters, the teams’s new 3D-bioprinter precisely injects layers of a tissue-building gel inside the supporting one to create the required shape. Then, much like quick-dissolving support filaments that are used to support gravity-defying structures within other 3D-printed designs, the support gel can be dissolved in 37C water, leaving behind the bioprinted organ ready for implantation into the patient. Donor organ transplants could very well soon be a distant memory.