A team of researchers at the University of Minnesota and the University at Buffalo has used a new 3D printing technology to manufacture organs and tissues from stem cells, a technology that would make it possible to create organ-like organs with the potential to be transplanted to patients.
The team demonstrated its ability to print stem cells and organs, as well as other tissues, using a biotechnological technique known as cryopreservation.
The research is published in Science Advances.
The researchers believe their work could one day lead to the creation of living tissue for transplant, which could lead to better treatments for the millions of people who suffer from severe and incurable diseases, including lung cancer, laryngitis and arthritis.
“The idea of 3D printed tissue is really exciting, but there’s still a lot of work to do,” said lead author James N. Schleifer, associate professor of civil engineering at the U.S. Naval Academy, who is also a research associate at the Nanjing Institute of Technology in China.
“What we’re doing is printing cells from stem cell lines, which is really novel and interesting.
We’re printing stem cells from the lungs of mice, which would be an amazing thing to have.
We could do that in a matter of weeks.”
The research team’s success is part of a larger effort to develop the ability to manufacture bioengineer-grade organs and stem cells for the treatment of diseases like laryncephalopathy, chronic myelogenous leukemia, spinal cord injuries, heart failure and other conditions that have a high incidence in the developing world.
Bioengineering, the science of creating and engineering living tissue, is a key component of this effort.
The process involves adding the cells of an organism into a solution of a specific chemical, such as methanol.
The methanolic solution is then injected into a culture of living cells and tissue to produce the cells.
Bioengineering is one of the most promising areas of biotechnology, and it has the potential, as many scientists believe, to transform the lives of people with debilitating diseases like cancer and laryns.
The current research is part a larger project by NIMH, the National Institute of Mental Health, the American Heart Association and other scientific institutions that aims to develop bioengineers with the ability, for example, to make living cells that can repair damaged organs.
Bioinformatics is the science that makes these synthetic biology and computer algorithms capable of translating the digital data that is being generated into the physical form that a human would expect.
NIMHS and the National Institutes of Health are partnering to explore the potential of 3-D printing to generate stem cells.
“We’ve been working on this for years and are excited about the possibilities that we have,” said Schlefer, whose research focuses on stem cell technologies.
“There’s so much that is out there that we’re just getting to the surface of understanding.”
Bioengineering can be applied to creating a new tissue for the human body that can be grown in a lab and implanted into patients.
In the future, this process could be used to create a replacement heart for people who have suffered heart failure or for other heart-related diseases, such the stroke that killed a man named David C. Sargent in 2016.
Nimschleifer said that this type of tissue could be implanted into the heart, which the researchers envision could help people who are suffering from heart failure, but have no viable alternative for replacement.
Nimhs researchers say the work also helps to understand how stem cells can be used for other types of medical applications, such heart bypass surgery.
In this case, researchers have printed cells from human lung tissue to create cells that could be transplants for people suffering from pulmonary fibrosis, a condition that causes the tissue to grow at a much slower rate than normal.
Another potential application of the research is for the manufacture of organs and tissue from other sources, such stem cells derived from the blood.
“For the next couple of years, we’ll continue to explore how we can use the bioengineering process to make this tissue,” Schlerier said.
“But for the time being, we’re focusing on what’s already available.”
The study, “Designing a bioengineering tissue for human lungs,” is available online at: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S030276920403930 The research was funded by the National Science Foundation.
Additional information on the research project can be found at http://science.nimhs.nih.gov/crs/about/content/journal/content.PNAS.115.135901.
The U. of M’s work is also supported by the U of M Department of Biological Engineering and Biomedical Engineering.
More about stem cells: http, http://news.umich.edu/