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Wake Forest Team Wins NASA Award for 3D Printing of Human Liver Tissue



Skinks think they’re just soooo cool. Without a lack of effort on our part, humans still lack the physiological ability to recover lost limbs and damaged organs. Well, at least we did not go down without explaining ourselves first. A pair of research teams from Wake Forest University’s Institute for Regenerative Medicine have topped NASA’s long-standing vascular tissue challenge by 3D printing a biologically viable part of human liver.

The teams, called Winston and WFIRM, respectively, each managed to produce one centimeter of square hunk-o-meat that was able to survive and function nominally for a period of 30 days, albeit using divergent methods. Yes, given that even NASA admits that both teams relied on similar “3D printing technologies to create similar shapes or scaffolding with a network of channels designed to maintain sufficient oxygen and nutrients to keep the engineered tissue alive”

;, they separated on their print designs and materials.

This is a piece of functional human liver that was 3D-printed out of stem cells.  It survived and functioned for 30 days.

Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine

“I can not exaggerate what an impressive achievement this is. When NASA launched this challenge in 2016, we were not sure there would be a winner, ”said Jim Reuter, NASA’s Associated Administrator for Space Technology, in a recent press release. “It would be unusual to hear about the first artificial organ transplant one day and think that this new NASA challenge may have played a small role in making it happen.”

Winston was named the winner, so not only will the team receive $ 300,000 to advance the development of the technology, the team will send its experiment up to the ISS for further testing – I think you need to make sure the next lab-printed liver is sufficiently RAD resistant. The WFIRM team receives $ 100,000, but no circuit expedition, to continue its research.

The medical procedures and products that this research potentially promises could very well be revolutionary. Instead of relying on a network of volunteers, tomorrow’s organ transplant candidates may just get their replacement organs printed before their transplant surgeries, virtually eliminating their chances of rejection and essentially guaranteeing a full genetic organ collection every single time.

“The value of an artificial tissue depends entirely on how well it mimics what happens in the body,” added Lynn Harper, administrator of NASA’s Ames Research Center. “The requirements are precise and vary from body to body, making the task extremely demanding and complex. The research resulting from this NASA challenge represents a benchmark, a well-documented foundation on which to build the next progress. ”

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