A 3D Printer That Generates Human Embryonic Stem Cells
2013-02-07 0:00

By Rebecca Boyle | io9.com

3-D printers can produce gun parts, aircraft wings, food and a lot more, but this new 3-D printed product may be the craziest thing yet: human embryonic stem cells. Using stem cells as the "ink" in a 3-D printer, researchers in Scotland hope to eventually build 3-D printed organs and tissues. A team at Heriot-Watt University used a specially designed valve-based technique to deposit whole, live cells onto a surface in a specific pattern.

This article originally appeared at Popular Science.

The cells were floating in a "bio-ink," to use the terminology of the researchers who developed this technique. They were able to squeeze out tiny droplets, containing five cells or fewer per droplet, in a variety of shapes and sizes. To produce clumps of cells, the team printed out cells first and then overlaid those with cell-free bio-ink, resulting in larger droplets or spheroids of cells. The cells would group together inside these spheroids. Spheroid size is key, because stem cells need certain conditions to work properly. This is why very precisely controlled 3-D printing could be so valuable for stem cell research.

After being squeezed out of a thin valve, the cells were still alive and viable, and able to transform into any other cell in the body, the researchers say. Itís the first time anyone has printed human embyronic stem cells, said lead researcher Will Wenmiao Shu, a professor at Heriot-Watt. But ... why?

Eventually, they could be used to print out new tissues, or as filler inside existing organs, which would be regenerated. It could even serve to limit animal testing for new drug compounds, allowing them to be tested on actual human tissue, said Jason King, business development manager at Roslin Cellab, one of the research partners. "In the longer term, [it could] provide organs for transplant on demand, without the need for donation and without the problems of immune suppression and potential organ rejection," he said in a statement.

The team took stem cells from an embryonic kidney and from a well-studied embryonic cell line, and grew them in culture. They had to build a custom reservoir ó letís call it an inkwell ó to safely house the delicate cells, and then they added some large-diameter nozzles. A pressurized air supply pumps the cells from the inkwell into the valves, which contain pressurized nozzles on the end. The team could control the amount of cells dispensed by changing any of the factors, including the pneumatic pressure, nozzle diameter or length of time the nozzle stayed open.

At first the researchers printed droplets, but ultimately, they were so precise that they made cell spheroids in a variety of shapes and sizes, like the university logo above. One interesting wrinkle: The cells also formed spheroids in the inkwells. More work needs to be done to explain that.

The researchers also took several steps to make sure the cells survived the printing process. Examining the results of several experiments, they found 99 percent of the cells were still viable after running through the valve-based printer.


Read the full article at: io9.com

In partnership with Roslin Cellab, the universityís biomedical engineering group came up with a valve-based printing technique that produces highly-viable, uniformly-sized droplets of stem cells. Most importantly, though, the cells maintain their pluripotency ó the ability to differentiate into every adult human cell type. While the prospect of lab-grown custom organs is incredibly exciting, the group is careful to temper its outlook, noting that any such application would be "in the longer term."
Source: TheVerge.com

Related Articles
Bioengineers í3D Printí Living Human Embryonic Stem Cells for First Time
This Child Has A Robot Hand Made With 3D Printers
Long-Gone Mollusk Comes to Life with 3D Printer
3D printer creates physical model of fetus for expecting parents
Artificial blood vessels created on a 3D printer

Latest News from our Front Page

Feminist blogger uses her vaginal yeast to make sourdough bread
2015-12-01 22:52
It's a tale that might ensure you never look the same way at a humble loaf again. When a feminist blogger found herself suffering from a vaginal yeast infection, she made the unusual decision to use the unwanted bodily fluid as an ingredient for making bread. Zoe Stavri, who writes under the title Another Angry Woman, has documented the details of her ...
Apple could be working on virtual reality projector, patents show
2015-12-01 22:40
The company has been granted a patent for an ‚Äėadaptive projector‚Äô, which can project images onto surfaces Apple could be working on a new augmented reality projector, which would allow it to make computers without even adding a screen. The company has been granted a patent for an ‚Äúadaptive‚ÄĚ projector, reports Patently Apple. The patents seem to refer to a tool ...
83-year-old Romanian Jewess crowned "Miss Holocaust Survivor" in Israel
2015-12-01 22:23
83-year-old Romanian born Rita Berkowitz wins the one-of-a-kind charity beauty pageant Romania-born woman who immigrated to Israel won the third annual Miss Holocaust Survivors Beauty Pageant in Haifa. Rita Berkowitz, 83, was chosen among the 16 European natives who participated in the contest on Tuesday. She came to Israel in 1951. Hairdressers and makeup artists primped and pampered the contestants before they took ...
North Vancouver schools get first gender-neutral washroom
2015-12-01 21:52
In a first for North Vancouver schools, Seycove secondary has opened a gender-neutral washroom. The move is a step in the right direction and recognition that not every student feels welcome in the binary male- or female-designated washrooms, according to Brian Wilson, president of Seycove’s Queer Straight Alliance Club, which lobbied the school administration for the washroom. High school is already a ...
Newly-Completed Fukushima 'Containment' Wall Already 'Slightly Leaning'
2015-12-01 21:15
Just weeks after re-starting the building of a giant ice-wall to contain groundwater leaking from the Fukushima nuclear plant, TEPCO has been forced to admit that a 780-meter protective wall built alongside the crippled power station (completed only last month and designed to prevent contaminated groundwater from seeping into the sea)  is already "slightly leaning." While this sounds a lot ...
More News »