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MU research team makes progress toward 'printing' organs
Date:11/6/2007

COLUMBIA, Mo. -- Each year, pharmaceutical companies invest millions of dollars to test drugs, many of which will never reach the market because of side effects found only during human clinical trials. At the same time, the number of patients waiting for organ transplants continues to increase. In the past 10 years, this number has nearly doubled. Now, a new study led by a University of Missouri-Columbia physics researcher might present new solutions to both problems with the help of a very special printer.

For the past four years, Gabor Forgacs, the George H. Vineyard Professor of Physics in the MU College of Arts and Science, has been working to refine the process of printing tissue structures of complex shape with the aim of eventually building human organs. In the latest study, a research team led by Forgacs determined that the process of building such structures by printing does not harm the properties of the composing cells and the process mimics the naturally occurring biological assembly of living tissues.

In the study, the team used bio-ink particles, or spheres containing 10,000 to 40,000 cells, and assembled, or printed, them on to sheets of organic, cell friendly bio-paper. Once printed, the spheres began to fuse in the bio-paper into one structure, much the same way that drops of water will fuse to form a larger drop of water.

If you wait for a long time, eventually all the small spheres will fuse into one large sphere, Forgacs said. To prevent that from happening, we can remove the bio-paper and stop the fusion process once the desired shape has formed. Through this bio-printing process, we were able to build, for the first time, functional tissue structures.

In the past, there have been two concerns with printing extended tissue structures using large amounts of cells. First, scientists needed to determine how to get specific cells to the correct locations within the structures. Second, even though the right
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Contact: Christian Basi
BasiC@missouri.edu
573-882-4430
University of Missouri-Columbia
Source:Eurekalert

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