3-D Printed Blood Vessels

Luke Davis, Reporter

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Beijing, China

 

A major breakthrough in 3-D printed medicine could bring hope to almost 1.8 billion patients with cardiovascular disease. Last year, Sichuan Revotek created the world’s first blood vessel bio-printer, which is said to be able to produce living tissue and organs. It is a big step on the road to available 3-D printed medicine. Chinese scientists working with Sichuan Revotek have successfully made 3-D printed blood vessels and implanted them in rhesus monkeys.

During the surgery, James Kang (chief scientist and CEO of Sichuan Revotek)’s team replaced a 2-centimeter segment of the abdominal artery with a 3-D printed blood vessel in 30 rhesus monkeys. Within five days of implantation, the stem cells were able to grow into the different types of cells needed to make a working blood vessel, including endothelial cells and smooth muscle cells. One month later, the blood vessels had completely joined with the monkey’s regular artery and worked exactly the same as the monkey’s original vessel.

The printed vessels support vascular functions, like helping with blood flow and transporting nutrients throughout the body as ‘bio-ink’ helps them develop into living vessels. “The bio- ink’s capacity to develop collagen, a necessity for the tissue to mold into different shapes, is the first of its kind,” he said.

However, this is not the first 3-D printed medical structure. Russian scientists transplanted a 3-D printed thyroid gland into a lab mouse in November and expect to print human organs in 15 years. The cosmetics giant L’Oreal said that it is developing 3-D printed skin tissues for product testing. A New York start-up, EpiBone, is trying to 3-D print customized bone grafts. But these advances have some ethical concerns, and they’re likely to spark major debates about the degree of control of the technology. But for now, we can all hope that these products will soon be public and help millions of people.

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3-D Printed Blood Vessels