Organ bio-printing gets a breath of fresh air

Bioengineers have cleared a major hurdle on the path to 3D printing replacement organs and tissues with a new open-source technique for bioprinting tissues and templates with exquisitely entangled vascular networks similar to the body’s natural passageways for blood, air, lymph and other vital fluids. The research is featured on this week’s cover of Science magazine. It includes a visually stunning proof-of-principle — a scale-model of a lung-mimicking air sac where airways and blood vessels never touch yet still exchange oxygen — and experiments to test whether a bioprinted implant with both blood vessels and liver cells could benefit mice with a genetic condition that mimics human liver disease. The work was led by bioengineers Jordan Miller of Rice University and Kelly Stevens of the University of Washington (UW) and included 15 collaborators from Rice, UW, Duke University, Rowan University and Nervous System, a design firm in Somerville, Mass.

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