Human-Size Tissues Roll Off the Printer | AIChE

Human-Size Tissues Roll Off the Printer


A 3D printer that has been 10 years in the making has created a life-like ear and a jawbone from biological cells and biodegradable polymers.The tissues embody the size, shape, and structural integrity of their human equivalents.

A team of scientists from the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine (WFIRM) has developed the Integrated Tissue-Organ Printer (ITOP), which can fabricate human-scale tissue constructs of any shape. The researchers used the printer to create mandible bone, ear-shaped cartilage, and organized skeletal muscle. When implanted in animals, the constructs matured into functional tissues and developed a system of blood vessels.

“This novel tissue and organ printer is an important advance in our quest to make replacement tissue for patients,” says Anthony Atala, Director of WFIRM. “It can fabricate stable, human-scale tissue of any shape. With further development, this technology could potentially be used to print living tissue and organ structures for surgical implantation.”


The Integrated Tissue-Organ Printing (ITOP) system consists of three major units: a three-axis stage/controller, a multi-cartridge dispenser with pneumatic pressure control, and a closed acrylic chamber with temperature and humidity control. The printer was used to print cell-laden hydrogels (red and green), a sacrificial hydrogel (yellow), which acts as a mold of sorts, and a poly(ε-caprolactone) (PCL)-based support material (gray). Image courtesy of Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine...

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