Apr 28, 2017 | By Tess

As 3D bioprinting advances and becomes increasingly viable as a medical process, it is not only bio-med companies and professionals that are pushing the technology forward: student researchers are also contributing. For example, a team of student researchers from Binghamton University has been working on a way to 3D bioprint an artificial pancreas out of stem cells in a project that could benefit patients with type 1 diabetes.

(Image: Wikipedia)

Thomas Hays, a senior at BU who is majoring in biomedical engineering, embarked on the 3D bioprinting project during his sophomore year along with Kyle Reeser, a second-year biomedical engineering graduate student, and Sebastian Freeman, a PhD student in the same field. Together, they set out to find a way to 3D print an artificial pancreas using autologous cells, which are cells taken from the patient’s own body. The pancreas, located in the abdominal cavity, is responsible for producing hormones such as insulin, glucagon, and somatostatin, as well as digestive enzymes.

Hays explains the bioprinting process, saying: “It is essentially a layer-by-layer technique where they overlap different 2D layers of material until you have a 3D product. [We] took that technology and applied bio-printing to the title. You take different materials, different cells and create an organ in that sense.”

Thomas Hays

(Image: Kojo Senoo)

More specifically, the research team is working on a process wherein it will take autologous stem cells, differentiate them into pancreatic cells, and layer them up, carefully building 3D pancreatic tissues that can be implanted back into the patient’s body. It is important to use cells from the patient’s own body as a source because it reduces the risk of rejection, which is a crucial challenge in traditional organ transplantation.

“The goal is to take a stem cell, differentiate that into a pancreatic cell, or whatever cell you need, and then put it in a reservoir,” said Hays. “Then they can print that into 3D layers to create your final organ. You have to have vasculature in there, too. It’s hard to nail down just a few things to put in [the printer], but it is a lot of cells and growth factors.”

Of course, the notion of 3D bioprinting will be more than familiar to 3Ders readers, as we have followed advancements and breakthroughs in the field very closely, from 3D bioprinted human skin tissue, to bioprinted blood vessel networks, and more. The research being done by Hays and his fellow student researchers just goes to show how vast the potentials of the technology really are.

As the technology currently stands, 3D bioprinting less vascular tissues (that is to say, tissues with fewer blood vessels) is much easier than recreating complexly vascularized tissues, such as organs. This means that it may still be awhile before we see anyone receive a fully 3D bioprinted organ implant—Hays estimates it will be at least another decade of research and clinical testing before any vascular organs are successfully transplanted. When that happens, however, patients with type 1 diabetes—a condition for which pancreas transplantation can be an effective treatment—could stand to benefit the most.

Hays is set to attend Stony Brook University School of Medicine in the fall.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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biff.pa2@GMail.com32 wrote at 5/8/2017 4:17:08 PM:

Great news. But how do you anticipate compatability of function with the recipient's body?

adam.sterne@att.net wrote at 5/7/2017 4:59:05 PM:

How will they prevent the immune system from destroying the beta cells? This is how Type 1 occurs.

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