News / Science & Technology

    Researchers Experiment With 3-D Printer to Produce Human Body Parts

    Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Partsi
    X
    Greg Flakus
    February 07, 2016 12:49 PM
    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades, but doctors and their patients still face the problem of tissue rejection and the need to quickly supply blood to the transplanted organ.

    Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant.

    They are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.

    This 3-D printer is using a sugar solution to make molds, which can be used to make silicone veins and arteries.

    Implant into rat

    The researchers successfully implanted these artificial blood vessels in a rat last year. But lead researcher Jordan Miller said the ultimate goal is to produce structures that can be implanted in humans.

    “We are in the field that is trying to find ways to build new tissues and new organ systems for human patients made from their own cells," Miller said.

    One idea would be to fill the molds with material commonly found in the body, like collagen, which could be safely implanted with a donor organ to quickly provide a mechanism for blood delivery.

    “If we implant a collagen gel, cells from your body can actually come in and replace that collagen gel with their own proteins," said Samantha Paalsen, a graduate student.

    Collagen is the material that forms bones, tendons and other connecting tissues in the body.

    Along the way, the Rice researchers are looking for ways to use their artificial systems to learn more about one of humankind’s biggest health threats.

    “We can use similar models to this, with our blood vessels that we have designed, and then we can study how cancer cells can go from a primary tumor into the blood vessels,” she said.

    3-D printer

    All of this research is made possible by this specially produced, fast and accurate 3-D printer, which Miller said is a device designed for cutting metal that has been adapted for this experiment.

    “We can use the same firm ware that everyone is using for 3-D printing, but we are extruding sugar from it instead of cutting metal," Miller said.

    Miller’s team produced this device and shared the design online with the RepRap.org community, through which people around the world create machines that can, to some extent, create their own parts.

    “This type of open-source movement has really empowered science. This is what science is supposed to be about; you are supposed to be able to reproduce someone else’s work," he said.

    Miller cautions that it could take many years of further research before these 3-D printed devices benefit human patients. But through their collaborative effort, he and his team members hope to see that dream realized.

    You May Like

    Syrian Torture Victim Recounts Horrors

    'You make them think you have surrendered' says Jalal Nofal, a doctor who was jailed and survived repeated interrogations in Syria

    Mandela’s Millions Paid to Heirs, But Who Gets His Country Home?

    Saga around $3 million estate of country's first democratic president is far from over as Winnie Mandela’s fight for home overshadows payouts

    Guess Which Beach is 'Best in the US'?

    Hawaii’s Hanauma Bay tops an annual "top 10" list compiled by a coastal scientist, also known as Doctor Beach

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: eric
    February 08, 2016 9:24 PM
    wow! sam rocks!

    by: Just A Nerd
    February 07, 2016 2:19 PM
    Bioengineering picks up the work where God got tired.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora