Designing Life: 3D-Printed Blood Vessels
Chinese scientists at biotechnology company Sichuan Revotek and the Regenerative Medicine Research Center of West China Hospital at Sichuan University have successfully embedded 3D-printed blood vessels into rhesus monkeys.
Using a 3D printer filled with 'ink' made from stem cells, the team printed prototype blood vessels that were then implanted into the monkeys' chests. A month after implantation, the stem cells in the artificial vessels had become "indistinguishable" from the monkeys' original vessels, according to Revotek.
The breakthrough expands the scope for the everyday use of 3D-printed biological materials, and hints at a future of biosynthetic organs. Helen Meese, head of healthcare at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers in London, told the Financial Times that Revotek's work was a "very exciting result for the global biotech community". She added: "Most of the research so far has been small-scale testing in laboratories. Scaling up is the next big challenge, and this is a big step in that direction."
Other recent advances in the health-tech space include organ-mimicking microchips, disease-predicting gene tech and hyper-realistic virtual reality, propelling consumers into a new era of precision healthcare.