Sep 28, 2017 | By David

We’ve reported on the remarkable advances in the field of 3D bioprinting, and barely a week goes by without a new breakthrough that has the potential to improve medical care and save countless lives. Australia is the latest country to discover the revolutionary possibilities presented by 3D bioprinting technology. Following the initial announcement back in January, a hospital in the bustling city of Melbourne has now installed the nation’s first 3D bioprinter, which will be used for research into kidney disease.

The Murdoch Children’s Research Institute (MCRI) was the recipient of the new 3D bioprinter, which was officially launched by Greg Hunt, the Federal Health Minister of Australia. According to Hunt, “it’s about giving parents the chance to see children with rare diseases have a pathway to a full life… These new techniques and the discoveries that are being worked on (at MCRI) save lives and protect lives...Our magnificent researchers are now being supported by the best technology in the world… The future of medicine is reliant on technology, treatment and research. And that future is here now.”

The MCRI already has a formidable stem cell medicine research program, and this new addition to its technical apparatus should see this world-class research going even further.

Kidney conditions are a major issue in Australia, with around $1 billion of the federal budget going towards the treatment of patients suffering from chronic renal disease. The rate of incidences is on the rise, too, increasing by around 6 percent year on year. Any more innovative approaches to dealing with kidney patients are therefore welcomed and the increased application of 3D printing technology and stem cells could see major positive changes being brought about to the country’s healthcare.

The installation of the new bioprinter was the result of a collaboration between the MCRI and global 3D bioprinting expert Organovo. Organovo develops all kinds of organic tissues, mostly for drug testing. Testing new drugs on bioprinted tissue instead of a human subject reduces the amount of time required to get a product to market, as well as making the drug trial process much safer. This is partly what the MCRI’s research will be oriented towards, although the end goal will be to develop replacement organs for transplants. The team is currently focused on 3D printing miniature kidneys for research, which measure around five millimetres in diameter.

According to Professor Melissa Little, Theme Director of Cell Biology and head of the Kidney Research laboratory at MCRI, as well as the Program Leader of Stem Cells Australia, “The 3D bioprinter will give us the opportunity to bioprint (stem) cells into a more accurate model of the kidney... While initially important for modelling disease and screening drugs, we hope that this is also the first step towards regenerative medicine for kidney disease. The bioprinter takes cells and places them in the position and shape that you want them to be so you can recreate the structure (of the organ you want to build). Ultimately what we want to build (is kidneys which are) large enough and functional enough to be able to transplant it back into a patient to improve their renal function.”

 

 

Posted in 3D Printing Application

 

 

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