You’ve heard of bioprinting…
You’ve heard of bioengineering…
But how about biofabrication?
As the name implies, biofabrication is an emerging biotechnology that involves producing various living organisms from cells, molecules, and biomaterials.
The technique encompasses a range of scientific disciplines – from bioengineering, biology, and chemistry. When applied to the human body, biofabrication involves both tissue and organ engineering, as well as helping to develop new drugs and drug toxicity.
And it’s the technique that scientists at the Medical University of South Carolina are using to create new human tissue. Using 3-D bioprinters, their hope is that they can generate tissue cells and organs in the lab for human transplant.
So how does the process work?
To the Palmetto Machine!
Well, the team starts with concoctions of tissue cells, proteins, glucose, and other so-called “bio-inks.”
The university’s Associate Chairman of Research Surgery, Dr. Michael Yost, reveals that these bio-inks “typically have at least 1.5 million cells”
The cells are then taken to the Palmetto Printer – the university’s 3-D bioprinter.
It’s there that the bio-ink gets to work with the cells to “create new microvascular networks that we can then grow new tissues in very key areas – such as [the] pancreas, liver, and kidney,” says Dr. Yost.
And needless to say, that’s the end goal here.
Take a look at how it works…
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Biofabrication: The Gateway to Growing Our Own Human Organs
The team’s work illustrates how far biofabrication has come since it began working on the technology in 2003.
In fact, over the past year alone, the university has advanced the technology significantly. Researcher Sarah Grace Dennis says they’ve gone from “printing just cellular bio-inks to see if patterns could be printed” to “printing skeletal muscle replica implants that we’ve been implementing into rats.”
And with Dr. Yost declaring that “tissue biofabrication is a reality – and a reality now,” it’s the next step on the road to creating human organs – and transplanting those organs into the body.