Scientists from the University of Wollongong’s ARC Centre of Excellence for Electromaterials Science (ACES), have successfully developed a structure of neural cells using 3D printing which acts much like human brain tissue. This is a significant step toward developing high-quality replicas of organ structures to help biomedical and pharmaceutical research.
How it all works
The researchers discovered they could feed a bio-ink through the 3D printing process. The bio-ink is created by encasing cortical neurons in a hydrogel of biopolymer. The biopolymer is then fed into a 3D printer. The researchers found the hydrogel facilitates accurate cell dispersion to create a structure resembling the cerebral cortex. This discovery paves the way to replicate some functions of complicated tissue such as brain tissue, right on a laboratory bench top.
The power of 3D printing brings alignment of advances in technology from different areas such as material science, printing and stem-cell research. 3D-printed organ structures offers a cost-effective test bed for experimental drugs. Instead of reverting to animal testing, use of these artificial structures will improve drug safety and effectiveness as drugs have an altogether different level of effectiveness on animal tissue.
While we are still far away from creating human organs, this new discovery will aid scientists to further understand brain disorders (such as schizophrenia), neurodegenerative diseases (such as dementia), and develop bionic ears.
[img source] The University of Wollongong
The above story is based on materials provided by the University of Wollongong