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- A 3D printed liver uses bioprinting to produce a liver using a patient’s own cells
- The process is similar to regular 3D printing but rather than plastic or other traditional materials, it employs a combination of bioink and biopolymer gel to form a hydrogel
- This biopolymer gel is the molecular architecture that maintains structural stability, and jointly they make a living material
- Other advancements include a 3D printed liver implant that can temporarily stabilize Acute Liver Failure (ALF) sufferers as they wait for an organ donation
- As well as liver tissue able to function for 30 days in the lab as part of NASA’s Vascular Tissue Challenge
- There are many advanced bioprinting projects occurring- 3D printed brains, cartilage, bladders, and even 3D printed drugs
Medical 3D printing will continue to surprise us for many years. In the last couple of years, 3D printing in the medical industry has been considered a promising solution. 3D printed livers are rapidly becoming a reality.
Researchers worldwide have conducted studies on the 3D printed liver, and the results are excellent. In this article, we will discuss everything about the 3D Printed liver. Keep reading the article till the end and make sure to enjoy it.
What is 3D Printed Liver?
3D printed livers are livers made through 3D printing. Recently, scientists have started utilizing bio-printing technology to make a liver. They are using body cells instead of just printing liver shaped objects for anatomical or display purposes.
Uses of 3D Printed Liver
3D printed livers have many uses, not limited to stabilizing acute liver failure. Popular technology will be crucial, especially to those people who suffer from nerve injuries. Furthermore, printed livers will save many lives by addressing the challenging transplant shortage.
Surgeons all over the world have become efficient by using this technology.
Ways 3D Printed Livers Can save Lives
It is worth noting that 3D printed livers can save lives differently. They have been attributed to helping in speeding up the medical process. Let’s discuss different ways in which 3D printed livers can save lives.
Animal Free Testing
It is one of the most notable benefits of 3D printed livers. Currently, animal testing is the most discussed ethical debate in the medical world. Researchers and scientists prefer testing on animals before human trials. However, there is no need to test the 3D organs on animals because there are unknown factors.
You can attest that there are few surplus organs with human cells that create treatments. Unlike using animal testing, doctors and scientists can use surplus organs. This means that drugs and treatments will accelerate specifically through the clinical trial process. Fortunately, it will not harm animals.
Faster and Reliable Transplants
3D prints have the chance to save a lot of lives through organ transplants. According to the World Health Organization, more than 30,000 people die from liver cancer alone. This number does not account for other liver diseases, which are also fatal.
With liver disease, there are thousands of patients waiting for transplants with the hope of surviving. There is no need to wait for deadly liver diseases when there is a reliable solution. However, your body might end up rejecting it because it’s a foreign object. Remember that not all bodies are compatible with foreign objects.
Fortunately, the rise of reliable 3D organs has made it possible to sustain a person’s life for years as they wait for a transplant. It has been discovered that a 3D printed liver from your body cells will not be rejected by the body. Several doctors across the world are of the opinion that transplant rejection is a huge threat to patients’ lives.
Humans are able to detect foreign objects in the body and reject them. But that is not the case with a 3D printed organ from your body cells. It is not a foreign object. This means that your body will heal itself without any further medication.
Most medical students must pass through a lot of coursework. They are trained with human organs, which in most cases depend on donated bodies. With 3D organs, it would be easier for the students to practice. This would lead to more structured training, not forgetting skilled professionals in the medical field.
Many countries worldwide are trying to be the first to create 3D printed livers. Various medical data shows that the bioprinting industry will be worth $2 billion by 2025. That’s why everyone is in a race to successfully create a working 3D liver with the main aim of monopolizing the industry. We have compiled the industry leaders in the 3D printed livers.
University of California Trial
A professor from the University of California managed to make 3D printed liver tissues in 2016. The liver tissues were similar to the liver structure. In fact, it could perform just like a human liver. The professor used stem cells from the skin. The cells were later combined with endothelial cells to create liver cells.
Don’t forget that endothelial cells are a layer that consists of multiple blood vessels. These blood vessels are essential in developing connective tissue cells. The reason why the renowned medical professor used stem cells was that they could easily become any type of cell. Skin and liver use the same stem cells.
During his trial to make a 3D printed liver, the tissue happened in two different phases. He began by printing micrometer-sized hexagons that contained stem turned liver cells. From there, the professor printed endothelial cells between the hexagons.
Typically, the cells were printed in a 3mm square. It is good to know that they were left to develop for 20 days.
3D Printed Liver from Brazil
A few years ago, scientists in Sao Paulo came up with a unique way to bio-print miniature livers. Although the claims are yet to be verified, it is said that the miniature liver can perform similar functions to a normal liver.
The whole process of collecting samples to make the stem cell took about 90 days. In addition, the cell structure took approximately 18 days. You can see that the waiting period would decrease drastically if the liver transplant works. The researchers managed to take a short time because they started by grouping the cells before printing them.
Surgeons and professors claim that the rise of 3D printed liver has created new opportunities for trainees to learn about the human liver and gain extensive knowledge in the medical field. There are still hopes of transforming the future of transplants by using 3D printed livers.
It is no secret that 3D printed livers technology will change the medical field by reducing death cases. Based on the progress, there is no doubt that the future of 3D printed livers is bright and promising.