Science/Tech

3D Printing News: Chinese Scientists Implant 3D Printed Blood Vessels Into Monkeys

Hannah Grace
January 12, 2017 09:30 AM EST

Chinese scientists have successfully implanted a 3D printed blood vessel into rhesus monkeys, which could pave the way for printing human organs for transplants. An estimated 1.8 billion people affected with cardiovascular disease can benefit from this medical breakthrough. 

This is the first time the viability of the cells printed in 3D has been maintained, according to James Kang, chief scientist and CEO of Sichuan Revotek Co., Ltd. The success of the transplant was attributed to the biological material or bio ink developed by the Chinese company. It is made of stem cells which are derived from the fat tissue of monkeys.

Biosynsphere was created by Kang's team with the goal of personalized stem cell bio-printing for organ regeneration. Sichuan Revotek's bio ink has nutrients and growth factors identical to the body to stimulate cell growth.

The 3D printed blood vessel was not rejected by the immune system because it came from the subject's own body. Stem cells obtained from fat tissues are safer than those from embryos. Bio ink's capacity to develop collagen is a breakthrough according to Kang. Collagen is necessary for the tissue to mould into different shapes.

The 3D printed stem cell implanted into monkeys grew into many different types of cells - just after five days - which are required to make a functioning and viable blood vessel. These include smooth muscle and endothelial cells.

Several bio-printing companies are now on a race in developing 3D printed organs. According to CNN, Russian scientists have 3D printed a thyroid gland in a mouse, while L'Oreal has announced it is printing skin tissues.

According to experts, printing an organ on a petri dish will not cause it to behave the same way as it were inside the body as it has no other surrounding organs. There have also been ethical concerns and resistance in printing 3D human organs.