New York, Feb 10 (IANS) New research shows the possibility of using 3D ice printing to help create structures that resemble blood vessels in the body. Researchers hope the vessels could eventually be used in artificial organ transplants or drug testing.
3D ice printing typically involves adding a stream of water to a very cold surface.
“What differentiates our method from other types of 3D printing is that instead of letting the water freeze completely while we print, we let it maintain a liquid phase on top,” said Feimo Yang, a graduate student in Philip’s labs. LeDuc and Burak Ozdoganlar of Carnegie Mellon University in the United States.
“This continuous process, which is what we call free form, helps us achieve a very fluid structure. “We don’t have the layering effect typical of many 3D prints,” Yang explained.
Tissue engineering to create laboratory-grown organs and tissues aims to close the gap between organ availability and demand for transplants.
But a big challenge in tissue engineering is creating networks of blood vessels in artificial organs that function like natural ones, from small capillaries to larger arteries.
Traditional artificial blood vessel designs often do not mimic the natural design needed to function properly in the body.
In the new study, the researchers used heavy water, a form of water in which hydrogen atoms are replaced by deuterium, which gives the water a higher freezing point and helps create a soft structure.
These 3D printed ice templates are then embedded in a gelatin material, GelMA.
When exposed to ultraviolet light, the gelatin hardens and the ice melts, leaving realistic blood vessel channels.
The researchers successfully demonstrated that they could introduce endothelial cells, such as those in blood vessels, into the manufactured blood vessels.
The cells survived in the gelatin for up to two weeks.
In addition to potential use for organ transplantation, Yang said 3D-printed blood vessels could be used to test the effects of drugs on blood vessels.
They could also be coated with the patient’s own cells to see how the cells respond to a drug treatment before giving it to the patient.