For the past few years, the potential and prowess of 3-D printing has only become more apparent, especially in the medical community. From organs to bones, the technology has been able to improve and save thousands of lives already, and new advances may help that number rise much higher.
Vascular networks printed
3-D Print reported that while 3-D printers have already been able to form several types of human tissue, often used in drug toxicity testing to drastically lower prices, scientists have been struggling to vascularize organs for wider availability. This means that it's impossible to form organs that are fully connected and able to receive blood and oxygen. These potential transplants would also lose their ability to excrete waste, leading to an early organ failure.
However, scientists at the University of Sydney, in conjunction with those from Harvard, Stanford and MIT, have been finding success in improving this practice, recently announcing that they've been able to fully implement vascular features throughout organs printed in this manner.
To achieve this, the researchers fabricated tiny fibers, all of them connected, which represent a typical vascular structure. These organs were then coated with a buffer of cells, followed by a protein-based material that was hardened by the application of light. After this was completed, the fibers were removed, leaving behind a network of spaces between hardened cells. When left alone for a week, these organized themselves into stable capillaries.
National Institutes of Health join Maker movement
MakerBot programs have long been one of the most notable aspects of the overall 3-D printing movement. They allow users to upload their own designs to a sharable platform and print their own products whenever they want. IO9 found that the National Institutes of Health is the latest group to join this movement, putting up files for better studying of virus composures and lab apparatus.
It's expected that these technological upgrades will allow researchers to gain new perspective on many of the diseases they study, giving them new information about how they operate and spread. There's a possibility that over time, these developments could work to help prevent large outbreaks or allow for better creation of vaccines or even cures for many viruses.
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