Researchers Create Synthetic Tissue with Custom-Built 3-D Printer

April 11, 2013 – 6:07 pm

A 3-D printer built by scientists at Oxford University is capable of producing synthetic tissue that could one day be used for drug-delivery or the replacement of damaged human tissue. The synthetic tissue is a new type of material that shares many properties with living tissue. The material consists of printed droplets of water, encapsulated within lipid films, and can perform functions similar to human cells, according to a press release from Oxford University. The research was published in last week’s Science.

Each water droplet is about 50 micron in diameter (about five times larger than living cells). Researchers believe that the droplet can be made smaller and they were able to create a large network of tens of thousands of droplets during the research. Gabriel Villar, a DPhil student and the lead author of the research paper, created a custom-built 3-D printer for the project, because conventional 3-D printers were not able to print the complex network of droplets.

Tissue engineering with living cells faces many regulatory and commercial challenges, a recent EMDT article pointed out. For example, synthetic tissue can avoid problems caused by stem cells, which might turn into cancer cells.

Interested in learning more about 3-D printing? A conference session on 18 June at MD&M East will focus on design and 3-D printing. MD&M East takes place June 17–20 2013 in Philadelphia, PA, USA.

By: Camilla Andersson

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