Progress in printing with living cells has brought the future one step closer with the first printed functioning human liver section. Normally either thin sheets of cells are produced or living cells are deposited onto a 3D printed inert scaffold. One technique being developed prints with blobs of stem cells that enable structures closer to real tissue.
This latest research has managed to print a 4mm x 0.5mm section of functioning liver by printing out 20 layers of living liver cells and blood vessel lining cells. The blood vessel lining cells provide structure and provide nutrients to keep the 3D culture alive for 5 days.
The living tissue provides incredible scope for testing drugs and treatments on cultured organs.
3D printer makes tiniest human liver ever – health – 23 April 2013 – New Scientist.