Network of 3D printing researchers.
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As mentioned by Professor Gartner of UCSF, ¨have developed a technique to build tiny models of human tissue called organoids. The technique uses DNA to guide the assembly of cells into organoids. This technique is called DNA Programmed Assembly of Cells (DPAC). The research team created several organoid arrays mimicking human tissues such as mammary glands. The research was published in the journal Nature Methods on Aug. 31, 2015.
This technique incubates cells with snippets of single strands of DNA The DNA attaches to the cell’s outer membrane. The incubated cell attaches to other cells that are incubated with matching DNA strands. In other words, the cell doesn’t attach with other incubated cells if their DNA sequence does not match. A cell can be incubated with more than one type of DNA cell. This allows the cell to attach to different types of cells. This technique is similar to playing with Legos. A lego piece can attach to other lego pieces if they have matching sides. This simple trick allows lego pieces to be combined to build a very large variety of toys. Similarly, DPAC uses DNA strands attached to cells to create different types of organoids.¨
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The human body can repair small tissue damages by itself. However, the human body has its limits and cannot fix several types of damages. For example, the human body is unable to fix several hearts, kidneys, liver problems, and so on. These problems are fixed by performing organ transplants.
Professor Adam W. Feinberg´s group at Carnegie Mellon is performing research that one day could make it unnecessary to transplant organs. Instead, the required organs will be 3D printed. Professor Feinberg’s group is using MakerBot’s 3D printers for 3D printing tissues.
The technology can best be described in the words of Professor Feinberg, “The challenge with soft materials — think about something like Jello that we eat — is that they collapse under their own weight when 3-D printed in air. So we developed a method of printing these soft materials inside a support bath material. Essentially, we print one gel inside of another gel, which allows us to accurately position the soft material as it’s being printed, layer-by-layer.”
One important aspect of this research is that it is based on the use of off-the-shelf 3D printers and not conventional bioprinters. These off-the-shelf 3D printers cost in the range of a thousand dollars which is much more affordable compared to typical bioprinters that cost in the range of a hundred thousand dollars. Also, the research group is using open-source software and releasing their 3D printer designs under an open-source license.