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A 3-D bioprinter for artificial body parts?

Image: 3D-printed ear
A human ear structure sits in a dish after it was printed with a device called the Integrated Tissue-Organ Printing System. (Credit: Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine)

Researchers say they’ve developed a 3-D bioprinter that can create artificial body parts with ready-made channels for getting nutrients and oxygen to the implanted cells. If the technology can be perfected, the device could solve one of the biggest obstacles to creating 3D-printed organs: how to nourish masses of manufactured tissue.

“It can fabricate stable, human-scale tissue of any shape,” Anthony Atala, director of the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine in North Carolina, said in a news release. “With further development, this technology could potentially be used to print living tissue and organ structures for surgical implantation.”

Atala and his colleagues describe their experiments with the bioprinter, known as the Integrated Tissue-Organ Printing System or ITOP, in a study published Feb. 15 by Nature Biotechnology.

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributing editor at GeekWire, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. Check out "About Alan Boyle" for more fun facts.

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