NASA is getting closer to printing artificial organs in space by exploring the frontiers of 3D printing

NASA is getting closer to printing organs in space

In America, 17 people die every day while waiting for an organ donation. What if, instead of waiting until a donor dies, we could one day grow our own tissues?

NASA named the two winning teams last week, six year after announcing its Vascular Tissue Challenge. The competition was designed to speed up research that may lead to artificial organs in the future. The Vascular Tissue Challenge required teams to produce thick, vascularized tissue of human organs that could last for 30 days.

Both teams from Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine (WFIRM) used different 3D printing techniques to produce lab-grown liver tissues that met NASA’s specifications and maintained their function.

Anthony Atala is the team leader of WFIRM, and the director of the Institute. He says, \”We took two different approaches, because when you examine tissues and vascularity you see the body doing two things.\”

Both approaches differ in how blood vessels are formed inside the body. The first used tubular tissue structures, while the second used spongy tissues to deliver nutrients and remove waste. Atala said that the challenge was a landmark for bioengineering, because the liver is the largest organ inside the body and one of the most difficult tissues to duplicate due to its many functions.

Researchers created human liver tissue using 3D printing that will soon be tested aboard the International Space Station.


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