In the United States, 17 people die daily waiting for an organ transplant. This is a problem because the organ transplant waiting list is only growing. Every nine minutes, another person is added to the transplant waiting list. This desperate need for organs has led some researchers to 3D printing as a potential solution.
The thinking behind 3D printing organs is that if biomaterials can be 3D printed in complex shapes, they might be able to support cells and form tissues. This would, in theory, alleviate the organ shortage. However, attempts so far have fallen short. The problem is that the bulk hydrogel bioinks used in 3D printing have failed to integrate properly into the body. They also haven't been able to support cells in thick tissue constructs.
However, there is now hope! Penn State researchers have developed a novel nanoengineered granular hydrogel bioink. This new bioink uses self-assembling nanoparticles and hydrogel microparticles, or microgels. This combination results in a 3D printing material that can be appropriately integrated into the body. Additionally, this new 3D printing material can support cells in thick tissue constructs.
This is a significant breakthrough in the 3D printing of organs. With this new bio-ink, we may finally be able to 3D print organs that are functional and can be used for transplant. This could potentially save thousands of lives every year and reduce a lot of suffering.
The researchers are still working on optimizing the bio-ink. They hope to have a final product within the next few years. However, it will likely be a few more years before this technology is available for transplantation.
What do you think? Do you think 3D printing organs is a potential solution to the organ shortage? Do you think this new bio-ink will be able to successfully 3D print organs? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!
Author: Christian Kromme
First Appeared On: Disruptive Inspiration Daily
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