Wake Forest teams win NASA award for 3D printing of human liver tissue


Skinks think they’re just too cool. Without lacking in our efforts, humans still lack the physiological ability to push back lost limbs and damaged organs. Well, we didn’t do that until this week, at least. A pair of research teams from Wake Forest University Institute of Regenerative Medicine have overtaken NASA’s long term Vascular tissue challenge through 3D printing of a piece of biologically viable human liver.

The teams, named Winston and WFIRM respectively, each succeeded in producing a one-square-inch piece of meat capable of surviving and nominally functioning for a period of 30 days, albeit using divergent methodologies. Yes, okay, even NASA admits that the two teams relied on “similar 3D printing technologies to create gel-shaped molds, or scaffolds, with a network of channels designed to maintain levels of water. ‘sufficient oxygen and nutrients to keep the constructed tissues alive,’ they differed in their designs and printing materials.

Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine

“I cannot stress enough that this is an impressive accomplishment. When NASA launched this challenge in 2016, we weren’t sure there would be a winner, ”said Jim Reuter, NASA’s associate administrator for space technology, in a recent press release. “It will be exceptional to hear one day about the first artificial organ transplant and to think that this new NASA challenge may have played a small role in its realization.”

Winston has been declared the winner so the team doesn’t just get $ 300,000 to continue developing the technology, the team can send their experiment to the ISS for further testing – I mean, you need to make sure that the next lab-printed liver is sufficiently RAD resistant. The WFIRM team will receive $ 100,000, but no orbital shipping, to continue their research.

The medical procedures and products that this research potentially promises could well be revolutionary. Rather than relying on a network of volunteers, tomorrow’s organ transplant candidates could simply have their replacement organs printed before their transplant surgery, virtually eliminating their chances of rejection and essentially ensuring a complete genetic match to the patient. every time.

“The value of an artificial tissue depends entirely on how it mimics what is going on in the body,” added Lynn Harper, administrator of the challenge at NASA’s Ames Research Center. “The requirements are precise and vary from body to body, making the task extremely demanding and complex. The research resulting from this NASA challenge represents a benchmark, a well-documented foundation on which to build the next breakthrough.

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