3D Printer Makes Small, Functioning Human Liver

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Medical science and technology frequently collide, and with the recent advances in 3D printing, it seems to be happening more often. 3D printers have been used to make robotic hands and skull replacements, and this week, at the annual Experimental Biology conference in Boston, a company unveiled mini-livers created by a 3D printer.

Organovo LogoOrganovo, a regenerative medicine company based in San Diego, Calif., showed off small, lab-grown livers that were developed with the help of a 3D printer packed with human cells taken from spare tissue removed in operations and biopsies.  The printer builds up about 20 layers of the two major types of liver cells and then adds cells from the lining of blood vessels in order to form the channels that supply the liver cells with oxygen and the proper nutrients.

The livers are just half a millimeter deep and four millimeters wide, but act almost identically to a real liver. The mini-livers produce proteins and cholesterol and are good predictors of drugs and other substances. The 3D printer-made livers live for five days or more, days longer than existing liver assays that live only forty-eight hours and don’t have the same range of functions.

Organovo’s ultimate goal is to create human-sized livers suitable for transplant.

 Source:  New Scientist

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  1. IluvTheNiners

    Wow, this is amazing!!! I hope they can create human size livers soon..if so..where do i sign up for one!!