Professor Bahattin Koç and his team from Sabancı University Faculty of Engineering and Natural Sciences’ Manufacturing Systems Program used a 3D printer to create the first ever macro-vascular tissue with the help of self-supported living cells in the 3D Tissue and Organ Printing Laboratory.
The professor and his team aim at using 3D printers to reproduce internal organs and tissues of anatomically proper shapes and sizes. As they’re planning to use stem cells of a particular patient, it will be possible to transplant the organs. From the MR images and living cells of the patient the team managed to reproduce the perfect aorta tissue. The living dermal fibroblast cells acted as bio-ink for 3D printing. Anatomically vessel tissue is made up of 3 groups of cells, which are smooth muscle (compose esophagus, vessels and intestines), fibroblast (the main type of cells) and endothelial (thin cells making up blood vessels).
Aorta is the largest vessel carrying blood to other vessels. If the aorta id damaged, it is impossible to replace it. Artificial synthetic vessels are not unusual in surgery; however, real vessels are far better.
It’s interesting to know that a lot of prominent people, including Einstein, died of aorta aneurism. Aneurism happens when an aorta expands to huge sizes. If not operated in time, the vessel may burst, which is very likely to result in internal bleeding and death. Creating artificial aorta from a patient’s own stem cells will make it possible to transplant the vessel. The research has just started and further studies will take much time.
From special algorithms scientists managed to make out the best possible ways to 3D print living cells imitating the anatomic structure of the tissue. They use the special hydrogel structures to support the cells. All the commands that govern the printing process are saved into one file, which is later used to direct the 3D printing process.
Still the group hasn’t come up with the way of printing whole internal organs ready for transplantation, but that’s what they aim at.
The 3D printing research at Sabancı University Manufacturing Systems Engineering faculty conducted by Bahattin Koç started 16 years ago. The last 7 years he devoted to developing tissue engineering application for three-dimension printers. He spent a lot of time studying 3D structures that would help to heal wounds. For the last 2 years he has been studying 3Dptinting of living organs.
He has been working on tissue engineering applications of 3D printing for last 7 years, starting at the University at Buffalo (SUNY). His research included the design and manufacturing of artificial skin and 3D support structures, known as scaffolds, to improve wound healing in a project supported by the US Department of Defense. Koç has been working on 3D bioprinting of artificial tissues and organs using live cells for over 2 years.