May.3, 2013

Researchers at Melbourne's St Vincent's Hospital and the ARC Centre of Excellence for Electromaterials Science (ACES) are working on developing human organs by building body cells layer by layer using a 3D printer.

The team has used the 3D printer to make body cells, including muscle cells, nervous systems cells and cartilage. Professor Mark Cook, director of neurosciences at St Vincent's Hospital, said 3D body part printing was like 'bubble jet printers'.

"Instead of putting in ink for printing, you can put in these new materials which will grow tissues successfully," he said.

ACES director Professor Gordon Wallace said he believed it would be possible to manufacture living tissues like human skin, cartilage, arteries and heart valves which could be used in transplants and other operations within five years. By 2025, scientists could fabricate complete functional organs, tailored for an individual patient.

Using a patient's own cells to create this tissue avoids issues of immune rejection, Prof Wallace said. "It would have a great impact on people who are waiting for (organ) donors."

(Images: ABC News Video)

Prof Wallace said he was conscious of the ethical dilemmas raised by rapid advancements in the technology.

"Trying to keep the community, regulators and the commercial sector up to speed with advancements in the area is a real challenge for us." Wallace told AAP. The technology could provide the solution to several medical challenges, allowing for the testing of drugs on human tissue.

Next month the team will launch an additive biofabrication unit at St Vincent's Hospital, the first of its kind in Australia to be located in a hospital.


Posted in 3D Printing Technology



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