Des scientifiques créent la première imprimante qui sauve des vies

Scientists create the first printer that saves lives

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news material Scientists create the first printer that saves lives

As more and more people around the world wait for organ transplants, research into 3D printing living tissue continues to advance. A hope for many patients. Today, science is advancing by leaps and bounds towards a 3D printer capable of saving lives.

Every year in France, thousands of people benefit from an organ transplant: heart, lungs, cornea, the possibilities are endless. In 2021, 5,273 transplants took place in France, on patients placed on the waiting list.Organ transplantation saves lives, but it is conditioned by many constraints. The first, and not least, is none other than organ availability. The “donations” are, in the vast majority of cases, from people who are deceased and compatible with the patient awaiting a transplant. There are, of course, cases of transplants performed by living donors, but the question of compatibility remains essential.

3D printers at the service of organ transplantation

In the United States, where the waiting list for an organ transplant exceeds 100,000 patients, 17 people die every day before they can benefit from a transplant. A situation that pushes many teams of researchers to work hard to find an alternative to the traditional transplant. Among the avenues mentioned, there is that of bio-printing.

Researchers at Harvard’s Wyss Institute are actively working on a bio-printing method capable of making living tissue using a 3D printing process. This would make it possible to create thick tissue containing human cells, which should eventually make it possible to print viable organs for transplants.

Scientists are currently working to extend the life of these tissueswho currently “live” for about six weeks. They are on their way to solving one of the most critical issues in bioprinting, namely the vascularization of printed tissues.

The video released by the Wyss Institute is quite mesmerizing to watch: anyone who has ever seen a standard 3D printer work can easily find a known diagram there. Here, no plastic, but layers composed of living cells which, once stacked, constitute a thick vascularized tissue.

“The method uses a customizable printed silicone mold to house and seal the printed fabric onto a chip. Inside this mold, a grid of larger vascular channels containing living endothelial cells in silicone ink is printed. A free-standing ink, containing living mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) is overlaid via a separate print job. After printing, a liquid composed of fibroblasts and extracellular matrix is ​​used to fill open regions within the construct”explain the researchers.

When printing is complete, the tissue is immediately impregnated with nutrients that ensure its survival, but also its development. This phase is very delicate and it is this that is currently at the heart of current research.

3D printed tissue visible through a microscope. We can perceive the vascularization of stem cells.

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What is the use for 3D printing of living tissue?

Scientists initially hope achieve the creation of vascularized tissues viable enough to be used in regenerative medicinefor example to treat severe burns. In such a situation, the printed tissue would contain cells from the body of the person for whom the transplant is intendedwhich would greatly limit the risk of rejection.

As for the 3D printing of viable organs, the road will still be very long. When the technology is viable enough to be tested, it will take years of clinical trials to experience the effectiveness of the printed fabrics. The day when we will see a heart ready to be transplanted from a 3D printer has not yet arrived, but researchers are working on the subject to make this science fiction vision a reality.

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