3D printing for new tissues and organsJune 18th, 2009   
more effective way to build plastic scaffolds on which new tissues and
even whole organs might be grown in the laboratory is being developed
by an international collaboration between teams in Portugal and the UK.   Ads 
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Writing in a forthcoming issue of the International Journal of Computer 
Applications in Technology, researchers explain how a technique known as rapid 
prototyping, or three-dimensional printing, could enable tissue engineering 
that replicates the porous and hierarchical structures of natural tissues at an 
unprecedented level.
Scaffold structures for tissue engineering that allow researchers to grow cells,
whether skin, muscle, or even kidney, in a three-dimensional could
allow medical science to create natural artificial organs. Such
scaffolds are increasingly important for the future direction of
regenerative medicine. However, conventional techniques have several
limitations. In particular, current scaffold construction lacks full
control of the often microscopic pores and their architecture.
Tissue engineering usually involves cellular implantation. Cells
might be derived from the patient or a donor. They are combined in the
laboratory with a degradable scaffold that can then be implanted to
replace damaged tissues. The presence of the structure scaffold also
triggers the body to rebuild damaged tissue. Ceramics are usually used
to help rebuild bone, while polymers might be used to rebuild soft body
Paulo Bártolo and Henrique Almeida of the Institute for Polymers and
Composites, at Leiria Polytechnic Institute, and Tahar Laoui of the
Department of Manufacturing and Systems at the University of
Wolverhampton, are borrowing a technique from more conventional
manufacturing to solve this problem.
In rapid prototyping, a computer controls a laser that cures a vat of polymer 
resin layer by layer and building up a solid object. It allows
designers and manufacturers to rapidly produce a prototype component
created on a CAD machine from anywhere in the world. But, it is the
precision with which a material can be constructed that could be
crucial to developing rapid prototyping as a tissue engineering
The researchers suggest that rapid prototyping overcomes many of the
limitations of conventional scaffold techniques, such as
stereolithography, which etches a block of material into shape. Rapid
prototyping might one day allow kidney,
liver and muscle tissues to be constructed in the laboratory from a
patient's own cells with close-to-natural detail ready for
transplantation.Source: Inderscience

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