Everyday computer technology—your inkjet printer—is being used to tissue engineer transplantable organs. In response to the demand for replacement organs, and because of the decline in donated organs, scientists have enlisted the technology housed in an inkjet printer to “print” tissues—bones, cartilage, muscle—to name a few.
Researchers throughout the world are exploring uses of the printing tool along with computer models to construct tissue layer by layer. In some cases, in lieu of ink, the printer cartridge is filled with cellular material. Instead of paper, the printer prints on a biomaterial—an extracellular matrix.
Although the use of this method of creating organs for transplantation is years away, in the interim these “printed” organs could provide useful in the discovery and crucial and critical evaluation of new pharmaceuticals.
Illustration: MicroSoft clipart.
Chemical Biology (04/23/07)
Scripps News (04/18/07)
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CRN Blog (02/26/07)