Scientists 3D Print a Cubic Human Liver Tissue Using Living Cells That Could Treat Future Astronauts Who Will One Day Live on Mars and the Moon
- US scientists grew human liver tissue in a lab using a 3D printer
- The team started using 3D printing technologies to create gel-like molds
- This acted as a platform for the cells to form in the liver tissue
- This allowed the final product to maintain adequate oxygen and nutrient levels
- NASA hopes this will be used to treat astronauts living on Mars and the moon
- It can also be used to make human organs for people on Earth
Space heroes living on the Moon and Mars could one day receive transplants using 3D-printed human tissue.
Scientist at the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine (WFIRM) in Winston-Salem, North Carolina constructed a cuboidal tissue that can function for 30 days in the lab.
The breakthrough was part of NASA’s Vascular Tissue Challenge, a competition to create thick, vascularized human organ tissue in an in vitro environment, and the group took first and second place.
The team created gel-like molds with “chambers” to help cells form into tissue by providing them with enough oxygen and nutrients to survive for an entire month.
Not only can 3D-printed tissue treat astronauts, but it could also be used in patients on Earth waiting for an organ transplant.
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Scientist at Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine (WFIRM) in Winston-Salem, North Carolina constructed a cuboidal tissue that can function for 30 days in the lab
Wake Forest Institute was made up of two teams, but Team Winston completed the trial first, receiving $300,000. The winners will also have the opportunity to continue their research aboard the International Space Station.
The scientists have been working on ways to turn living cells into living human body parts for at least a decade — in 2011, the team grew ears, muscles and jawbones.
The group has come a long way, taking on NASA’s challenge in 2016 to develop human tissue using 3D printing techniques.
Graça Almeida-Porada, MD, PhD, said in a statementNASA has planned missions to Mars and near-Earth asteroids in the coming years, but the potential health risks for astronauts from exposure to the unique conditions in deep space are still not well defined.
The Wake Forest scientists used 3D printing technologies to create gel-like molds or scaffolds with a network of channels designed to maintain sufficient oxygen and nutrient levels to keep the engineered tissues alive for their 30 days.
“Hopefully this research will help us gain insight into how we can prevent or reduce these negative effects.”
The WFIRM scientists used 3D printing technologies to create gel-like molds or scaffolds with a network of channels designed to maintain sufficient oxygen and nutrient levels to keep the engineered tissues alive for 30 days.
Winston and WFIRM used a variety of 3D-printed designs and different materials to produce living tissues with cell types found in human livers.
Lynn Harper, challenge administrator at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley, California, said, “The value of an artificial tissue depends entirely on how well it mimics what happens in the body.
“The requirements are precise and vary from organ to organ, making the task very demanding and complex. The research resulting from this NASA challenge provides a benchmark, a well-documented foundation to build on.”
If the innovation goes to the ISS, astronauts can study how radiation exposure affects the human body, document the function of organs in microgravity, and develop strategies to minimize damage to healthy cells while living or working in space.
Growing the tissue in space could facilitate the creation of even larger and more complex engineered tissues that look and function more like those in the human body, compared to tissues constructed on Earth.
If the research makes it to the station, the combination of improved vasculature and microgravity could deliver the next set of advances for tissue engineering on Earth and bioproduction in space.