Brian Derby, Head of the Ink-Jet Printing of Human Cells Project
research team, said: "It is difficult for a surgeon to reconstruct any
complex disfiguring of the face using CT scans, but with this
technology we are able to build a fragment which will fit exactly. We
can place cells in any designed position in order to grow tissue or
This breakthrough overcomes problems currently faced by scientists who
are unable to grow large tissues and have limited control over the
shape or size the tissue will grow to. It also allows more than one
type of cell to be printed at once, which opens up the possibility of
being able to create bone grafts.
"Using conventional methods, you are only able to grow tissues which
are a few millimetres thick, which is fine for growing artificial skin,
but if you wanted to grow cartilage, for instance, it would be
impossible," Professor Derby says.
The key to the advance which Professor Derby and his team have made is
the innovative way in which they are able to pre-determine the size and
shape of the tissue or bone grown.
Using the printers, they are able create 3-dimensional structures,
known as 'tissue scaffolds'. The shape of the scaffold determines the
shape of the tissue as it grows. The structures are created by printing
very thin layers of a material repeatedly on top of each other until
the structure is built. Each layer is just 10 microns thick (1,000
layers equals 1cm in thickness).
This method allows larger tissues to be grown than previously possible.
The reason for this is the way in which the cells are inserted into the
Before being fed into the printer, the cells are suspended in a
nutrient rich liquid not dissimilar to ink, which ensures their
survival. The cells are then fed into the printer and seeded directly
into the structure as it is built. This avoids any 'sticking to the
surface' which is a major disadvantage of current methods that infuse
the cells into the structure after it has been built.
"The problem is getting cells into the interior of these constructions
as they naturally stick to the sides of whatever they are being
inserted into. If they stick to the sides then this limits the number
of cells which can grow into tissues, and the lack of penetration also
limits their size. By using inkjet printing we are able to seed the
cells into the construction as we build it, which means 'sticking'
isn't a problem," says Professor Derby.
Professor Derby believes the potential for this technology is huge:
"You could print the scaffolding to create an organ in a day," he says.
Source:University of Manchester
Related biology news :
1. New protein discovered by Hebrew University researchers
2. Next Generation Body Scanner Launched By The University Of Manchester
3. Roundup®highly lethal to amphibians, finds University of Pittsburgh researcher
4. Green catalyst destroys pesticides and munitions toxins, finds Carnegie Mellon University
5. University of Nevada, Reno research team discovers hormone that causes malaria mosquito to urinate
6. Carnegie Mellon University research reveals how cells process large genes
7. University of Delaware researchers develop cancer nanobomb
8. University of Arizona plant scientists to unravel maize genome
9. Team led by Carnegie Mellon University scientist finds first evidence of a living memory trace
10. University of Utah to help build bionic arm
11. New University of Toronto research a pore excuse for engineering