They then load the 3D printer with stem cells which act as “ink” and are injected into the correct position making the organ functional.
While 3D printing is already used widely to produce spare parts for industry, Erturk said the development marks a step forward for 3D printing in the medical field.
Until now 3D-printed organs lacked detailed cellular structures because they were based on images from computer tomography or MRI machines, he said.
“We can see where every single cell is located in transparent human organs. And then we can actually replicate exactly the same, using 3D bioprinting technology to make a real functional organ,” he said.
“Therefore, I believe we are much closer to a real human organ for the first time now.”
Erturk’s team plan to start by creating a bioprinted pancreas over the next 2-3 years and also hope to develop a kidney within 5-6 years.
The researchers will first test to see whether animals can survive with the bioprinted organs and could start clinical trials within 5-10 years, he said.
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