3D printed blood vessels could be used in transplants

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3D printing technology could soon be used to carry out transplants of lab-grown organs after scientists were able to ‘print artificial blood vess...

3D printing technology could soon be used to carry out transplants of lab-grown organs after scientists were able to ‘print’ artificial blood vessels.

A research team from Germany’s Fraunhofer Institute have successfully carried out the multiphoton polymerisation technique, something which could solve many problems associated with artificial tissue engineering.

Until now, it has been virtually impossible to supply artificially made tissues with nutrients, because they have to travel through tiny capillaries.

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However, according to BBC News, the researchers used 3D printing methods in conjunction with two-photon polymerisation, which involves shining intense laser beams onto an artificial material to stimulate molecules.

The researchers were then able to create precise elastic structures which a human’s natural body tissue is able to interact with.

Dr Gunter Tovar, the head of the project, said: “The individual techniques are already functioning and they are presently working in the test phase; the prototype for the combined system is being built.”

Tovar continued: “We are establishing a basis for applying rapid prototyping to elastic and organic biomaterials.

“The vascular systems illustrate very dramatically what opportunities this technology has to offer, but that's definitely not the only thing possible,” he added.

Scientists all over the world have been working on creating artificial organs and developing artificial tissues to combat the long waiting lists for transplants.  

For example, in Germanyalone 11,000 people have been placed on a transplant waiting list so far this year.

The results of the research and its results will be presented at Germany’s Biotechnica Fair next month. 

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