As bizarre as it might sound, recreating blood vessels is nothing new. The real challenge has been using 3D printers to build ones that actually work. No really - it's been something of a mental block for scientists for a while, but a new technique that fuses traditional printing methods with a substance called 'bio ink' has enabled a new team to create vessels that act just like the real thing.
The human cardiovascular system is hardly the easiest part of human biology to replicate - a system comprising of tens of thousands of miles of capillaries, arteries and veins that reach across the whole of the body. So in order to mimic the natural distribution of blood and nutrients, a research team based at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California have used bio ink (made of materials compatible with the human body) with living cells to create fully-functioning cardiovascular pathways.
More staggering is the fact that these vessels also rebuild and duplicate themselves, just like they do inside the body. “It’s going to change the way we do biology,” comments Lab research engineer Monica Moya, the project’s principal investigator. “This technology can take biology from the traditional petri dish to a 3D physiologically relevant tissue patch with functional vasculature.”
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