3D Bioprinting

In the field of medical science, technology is flourishing. With the development, more lives are saved, and we are now reaching the period of bombarding innovations. Cancer will eventually be cured, heart diseases are no longer a treat, and damaging flus are not a topic that come into our mind. One of the technology innovations is 3D bio-printing.

Every year, hundreds and thousands of people are in the list of waiting for the donations of organs, like kidneys, hearts, and livers. However, the lack of donors is a severe problem that causes people to suffer. Instead of letting people to wait, scientists have come up with an intriguing alternative: using 3D bio-printing to make organs that fit patients’ body conditions.

This innovation is not able to print complicated organs just yet, but simpler tissues and organs are in our grasp. By using bio-inks, a unique material that contains cells for the use of transporting nutrients, 3D bio-printing machines can not only apply single cells to output the printed tissues, but also combine different types to produce more complex structures. Several printing techniques are used by scientists to popularize the use of bio-printing. The most well-known is extrusion-based bio-printing. In this, bio-ink gets loaded into a printing chamber, and pushed through a round opening, or nozzle, attached to a print head. The nozzle is rarely wider than 400 microns in diameter and can produce a continuous filament roughly the thickness of a human finger nail. A computerized image or file guides the placement of the strands, either onto a flat surface, or into a liquid bath that will help hold the structure in place until it stabilizes. These printers are fast, and can produce a tissue in about half an hour, one thin strand at a time. After printing, some bio-inks will stiffen immediately; others need UV light or an additional chemical or physical process to stabilize the structure. If the printing process is successful, the cells in the synthetic tissue will begin the behave the same way cells do in real tissue: signalling to each other, exchanging nutrients, and multiplying.

Innovations exist nearly everyday, but useful ones are not that many. What we need to do is to think about what human really need to improve our conditions and enhance our comprehension of human lives.

Yuntong Zhang

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