Custom-made, living body parts have been 3D-printed in a significant advance for regenerative medicine, say scientists.
The Integrated Tissue and Organ Printing System - or Itop - combines a bio-degradeable plastic which gives the structure and a water-based gel which contains the cells and encourages them to grow. When the structures were implanted into animals, the plastic broke down as it was replaced by a natural, structural "matrix" of proteins produced by the cells. Meanwhile, blood vessels and nerves grew into the implants. Prof Anthony Atala, the lead researcher, said tissues could now be printed on a human scale.
The breakthrough, published in Nature Biotechnology, raises the hope of using living tissues to repair the body.
Doctors 3D-print 'living' body parts