Scientists at the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine have printed living human body parts using live cells and a gel that has the consistency of living tissue. The method combines the cells and gel with a series of microchannels that pave the way for natural vessel formation.
“We are actually printing the scaffolds and the cells together,” Dr. Anthony Atala of Wake Forest University Institute for Regenerative Medicine told NBC News. “We show that we can grow muscle. We make ears the size of baby ears. We make jawbones the size of human jawbones. We are printing all kinds of things.”
Though use in human patients is years away, the technology provides hope for transplant patients. The team is working to expand printing capabilities to create more complex organs, such as livers, lung tissue, and kidney tissue, in shapes and sizes custom to the patient.