New technique allows 3D printing of living tissue structures

Engineering

British scientists have developed a method of 3D printing laboratory-grown cells to form living structures, a development with numerous medical applications.

A team led by the University of Oxford have found a way to produce tissues in self-contained cells that support these structures to keep their shape, with cells encapsulated within protective nanolitre droplets wrapped in a lipid coating.

“UK researchers have developed a new approach for 3D printing laboratory-grown cells to form living structures.“

These could then be assembled layer-by-layer into living structures that demonstrated the basic behaviours and physiology found in natural organisms. New complementary printing techniques will now be needed to allow the use of a wider range of living and hybrid materials, meaning tissue can be produced at an industrial scale.

This method could be used to create complex tissues and cartilage to support, repair or augment diseased and damaged areas of the body, or to produce human tissue models that would eliminate the need for clinical animal testing.

Dr Adam Perriman from the University of Bristol's school of cellular and molecular medicine said: "The ability to 3D print with adult stem cells and still have them differentiate was remarkable, and really shows the potential of this new methodology to impact regenerative medicine globally."

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