By Kaitlyn Schaeffer
Bioprinting expert Benjamin Harris and his team at the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine have been developing several promising projects using 3D printing technology. One machine, a printer that can produce artificial structures while dispensing living cells, is being used to replace missing or damaged ears, noses, and bones. A second printer, still in the development stages, is being programmed to print live skin cells onto burned flesh. By incorporating 3D mapping techniques, the machine will be able to determine and then produce a graft of the correct cellular depth and width. A third project involves a device researchers have used to print functional, miniature human organs. The scientists plan to connect these organs into a unitary system, and monitor the system’s capacity to function. If this proves successful, the researchers plan to experiment with printing larger organs, with the goal of being able to produce fully functioning life-size organs that can be used for transplants. If the Institute is able to produce viable organs, those in need of transplants will be able to receive an organ in days or even hours, instead of having to wait years on a transplant list.
Check out the full article, and an awesome TED talk on these projects here.