Scientists are successfully printing 3D living human kidneys. This is great news. Currently, they are miniature in size but with 90% of the printed cells being alive. This increases the potential for human use.
Scientists cultured samples of human kidney cells and blended them with hydrogel - a water and nutrition rich material that makes up the 3D printed kidney's base. The printed cells can survive for up to four months in a lab thanks to the gel's rich nutrient source.
The actual process is considerably different from plastic based 3D printing. Xu Mingen, lead researcher and professor at Huazhong University of Science and Technology in easter Zhejiang Province says:
It's different from traditional 3D printing—to print a cup, we have to fill up the object with our material. But this method doesn't work in cells because a cell contains blood vessels and has tissue space. We have to make sure to spare enough space for them to grow.
Even better is that the kidneys actually function the way real human bred counterparts. They break down toxins, metabolize and secrete fluid. It may still be a few years away before this can be a viable option for those looking for a new kidney, but aren't you glad it's already on it's way? Good job. [Digg]