3D Printed Human Tissue Just Got Closer to Reality

Scientists have moved a step closer to creating fully-functioning replacement tissue at the push of a button with the development of a remarkable new bioprinting method.

Developed at Harvard University’s Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering, the bioprinting method involves the creation of 3D tissue constructs made up of different interconnected cell types and blood vessels. This represents a major milestone in the creation of artificial tissue.

This is the first time that tissue constructs of this complexity have been produced. Previous attempts to create lab-grown tissue have been limited to very thin slices because scientists have been unable to develop a system to supply the interior cells with oxygen and nutrients or remove carbon dioxide.

The team behind the project, lead by core faculty member Dr Jennifer Lewis, created a custom 3D printer that can print multiple materials together with a very high degree of accuracy. They also created “bio-inks”, which contain key ingredients found in living tissues, and printed these to create the tissue construct.

Although the results are still in their early stages – the team still have work to do to turn the printed blood vessel lining cells into fully-working blood cells – the potential for this technology is significant.

Bioprinting: Building in Blood Vessels from Wyss Institute on Vimeo.

Writing in a release the Wyss Institute website, the Institute said that the development “represents an early but important step toward building fully functional replacements for injured or diseased tissue that can be designed from CAT scan data using computer-aided design (CAD), printed in 3D at the push of a button and used by surgeons to repair or replace damaged tissue.”

Dr Lewis agreed, saying: “This is the foundational step toward creating 3D living tissue.”

In the shorter term, the technology has the potential to be used to assess the safety of medicines, which is what Dr Lewis and her team are now focusing on. “That’s where the immediate potential for impact is,” she explained.

Bioprinting: Building with Bio-Inks from Wyss Institute on Vimeo.

Once the 3D tissue is developed sufficiently it could be used in drug development to establish possible side effects and measure the effectiveness of drug candidates. This could prove revolutionary for the pharmaceutical industry, and is something that many people have seen as a holy grail for drug development – it could reduce the time it takes to bring medicines to market and reduce or even remove the reliance on animal testing.

It could prove invaluable for scientist studying living tissue and how it heals, grows and forms tumours. “Tissue engineers have been waiting for a method like this,” said Wyss Institute founding director Dr Don Ingber.

The Wyss Institute is known for its innovations in biomimetics – the practice of taking inspiration from nature for scientific design – and has previously produced artificial jellyfish, the lung-on-a-chip and swarms of robotic insects.


Image courtesy of the Wyss Institute.


Supersonic passenger plane to use giant screens instead of windows

Passengers on long haul flights often while away the hours starring aimlessly out the windows at the passing scenery however, the group behind the world’s first commercial supersonic plane have decided it is best if they do without windows.

Instead Spike Aerospace has decided to use giant screens inside the passenger cabin which will show what is happening outside the plane.

It says that removing windows will reduce the challenges in designing and constructing the aeroplanes fuselage. Windows require extra support and add to the number of parts that are needed as well as the overall weight of the plane.

Also a smoother outer skin of the plane will help to reduce the drag when flying at high speeds.

In a post on its website Spike Aerospace say: “The interior walls will be covered with a thin display screens embedded into the wall. Cameras surrounding the entire aircraft will construct breathtaking panoramic views displayed on the cabin screens.”

Passengers will be allowed to dim the screens if they want to sleep or be able to change it to any number of images stored in the plane’s system.

This could cause problems for those wanting to sleep when others are working or wanting to eat. It’s not worth considering how uninspiring the plane will be if the screens break.

spike-screen

The new supersonic jet will allow passengers to reach destinations in half the time it currently takes, the company claims. It says flying from New York to London will take three-four hours instead of the six-seven hours it currently takes and it says LA to Tokyo will take eight hours instead of 14-16.

At present commercial airliners fly at speeds of around 567mph, but the planned Spike S-512 plane is targeting speeds of 1,060-1,200mph for its slights.

The company say: “We expect the first customers for the jet will be businesses and their management teams that need to manage global operations more efficiently.

“They will be able to reach destinations faster, evaluate more opportunities and have a bigger impact on their enterprises.”

In short, the jet is being designed for the select few on corporate accounts who will be able to afford the flight costs in the initial stages.

But it appears virtual environments aren’t only going to be used for the super wealthy as only weeks ago cruise ship company Royal Caribbean announced its latest cruise shop would play host to ‘virtual balconies’ for those in the worst rooms.

The ship company intends that virtual balconies will comprise of an 80-inch LED screen on the wall of 373 rooms in its latest boat, the Quantum of the Seas.

If the company’s images are to be believed sea-goers will be able to enjoy the best views around the boat without having to put up with sea air or, if caught in a storm be able to change their view to that of a sunny day.


Image courtesy of Spike Aerospace.