This discovery is a significant step forward because previously 3D-printed organs lacked the cellular detail to provide the functionality needed for the replicated organ to work independently.
The development stems from Dr Erturk and his team using a chemical process involving solvents to strip away the outer layer of the organ to be replicated, allowing for the cellular detail underneath to be seen in enough detail that the 3D printer can see what it needs to replicate, such as blood vessels. Previously, 3D-printed organs were based on just the image of an organ (such as an MRI scan) and therefore did not allow the printer enough detail to replicate the cellular structure of the organ needed to create a functioning product.
This new technique which allows for body parts to be scanned at a cellular level means we are one step closer to being able to print real, functioning human organs for use in transplant therapies.
Dr Erturk and his team hope to use this discovery to create bioprinted organs for use in clinical trials which could see human study subjects testing the technology in the next 5-10 years.