Nav: Home

3-D printing creates super soft structures that replicate brain and lungs

January 10, 2018

A new 3D printing technique allows researchers to replicate biological structures, which could be used for tissue regeneration and replica organs.

Imperial College London researchers have developed a new method for creating 3D structures using cryogenics (freezing) and 3D printing techniques.

This builds on previous research, but is the first to create structures that are soft enough to mimic the mechanical properties of organs such as the brain and lungs. Their technique is published in the journal Scientific Reports.

Being able to match the structure and softness of body tissues means that these structures could be used in medical procedures to form scaffolds that can act as a template for tissue regeneration, where damaged tissues are encouraged to regrow.

Regenerating damaged tissue by 'seeding' porous scaffolds with cells and encouraging them to grow allows the body to heal without the issues that normally affect tissue-replacing transplant procedures, such as rejection by the body.

The use of scaffolds is becoming more common and varied in its applications, but this new technique is special in that it creates super soft scaffolds that are like the softest tissues in the human body and could help to promote this regeneration. In particular, there might be future potential in seeding neuronal cells; those involved in the brain and spinal cord.

The researchers tested the 3D-printed structures by seeding them with dermal fibroblast cells, which generate connective tissue in the skin, and found that there was successful attachment and survival. This success, alongside previous research, could lead to further possibilities around the successful growth of stem cells, which is medically exciting due to their ability to change into different types of cells.

Additionally, the technique could be used to create replica body parts or even whole organs. These could be incredibly useful to scientists, allowing them to carry out experiments not possible on live subjects. They could even be used to help with medical training, replacing the need for animal bodies to practice surgery on.

Zhengchu Tan, one of the researchers from the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Imperial, said: "At the moment we have created structures a few centimetres in size, but ideally we'd like to create a replica of a whole organ using this technique."

The technique uses solid carbon dioxide (dry ice) to rapidly cool a hydrogel ink as it is extruded from a 3D printer. After being thawed, the gel formed is as soft as body tissues, but doesn't collapse under its own weight, which has been a problem for similar techniques in the past.

Dr Antonio Elia Forte, one of the researchers from the Department of Bioengineering at Imperial, said: "Cryogenics is the novel aspect of this technology - it uses the phase change between liquid and solid to trigger polymerisation and create super soft objects that can hold their shape. This means that the technology has a wide variety of possible uses."
-end-


Imperial College London

Related Brain Articles:

Study describes changes to structural brain networks after radiotherapy for brain tumors
Researchers compared the thickness of brain cortex in patients with brain tumors before and after radiation therapy was applied and found significant dose-dependent changes in the structural properties of cortical neural networks, at both the local and global level.
Blue Brain team discovers a multi-dimensional universe in brain networks
Using a sophisticated type of mathematics in a way that it has never been used before in neuroscience, a team from the Blue Brain Project has uncovered a universe of multi-dimensional geometrical structures and spaces within the networks of the brain.
New brain mapping tool produces higher resolution data during brain surgery
Researchers have developed a new device to map the brain during surgery and distinguish between healthy and diseased tissues.
Newborn baby brain scans will help scientists track brain development
Scientists have today published ground-breaking scans of newborn babies' brains which researchers from all over the world can download and use to study how the human brain develops.
New test may quickly identify mild traumatic brain injury with underlying brain damage
A new test using peripheral vision reaction time could lead to earlier diagnosis and more effective treatment of mild traumatic brain injury, often referred to as a concussion.
This is your brain on God: Spiritual experiences activate brain reward circuits
Religious and spiritual experiences activate the brain reward circuits in much the same way as love, sex, gambling, drugs and music, report researchers at the University of Utah School of Medicine.
Brain scientists at TU Dresden examine brain networks during short-term task learning
'Practice makes perfect' is a common saying. We all have experienced that the initially effortful implementation of novel tasks is becoming rapidly easier and more fluent after only a few repetitions.
Balancing time & space in the brain: New model holds promise for predicting brain dynamics
A team of scientists has extended the balanced network model to provide deep and testable predictions linking brain circuits to brain activity.
New view of brain development: Striking differences between adult and newborn mouse brain
Spikes in neuronal activity in young mice do not spur corresponding boosts in blood flow -- a discovery that stands in stark contrast to the adult mouse brain.
Map of teenage brain provides evidence of link between antisocial behavior and brain development
The brains of teenagers with serious antisocial behavior problems differ significantly in structure to those of their peers, providing the clearest evidence to date that their behavior stems from changes in brain development in early life, according to new research led by the University of Cambridge and the University of Southampton, in collaboration with the University of Rome Tor Vergata in Italy.

Related Brain Reading:

Beautiful Brain: The Drawings of Santiago Ramon y Cajal
by Larry W. Swanson (Author), Eric Newman (Author), Alfonso Araque (Author), Janet M. Dubinsky (Author)

Neuroscience: Exploring the Brain
by Mark F. Bear (Author), Barry W. Connors (Author), Michael A. Paradiso (Author)

Brain Maker: The Power of Gut Microbes to Heal and Protect Your Brain–for Life
by David Perlmutter (Author), Kristin Loberg (Contributor)

The Human Brain Book: An Illustrated Guide to its Structure, Function, and Disorders
by Rita Carter (Author)

The Brain That Changes Itself: Stories of Personal Triumph from the Frontiers of Brain Science
by Norman Doidge (Author)

399 Games, Puzzles & Trivia Challenges Specially Designed to Keep Your Brain Young.
by Nancy Linde (Author)

Switch On Your Brain: The Key to Peak Happiness, Thinking, and Health
by Dr. Caroline Leaf (Author)

Brain Food: The Surprising Science of Eating for Cognitive Power
by Lisa Mosconi PhD (Author)

The Brain's Way of Healing: Remarkable Discoveries and Recoveries from the Frontiers of Neuroplasticity
by Norman Doidge (Author)

The Whole-Brain Child: 12 Revolutionary Strategies to Nurture Your Child's Developing Mind
by Daniel J. Siegel (Author), Tina Payne Bryson (Author)

Best Science Podcasts 2018

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2018. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Circular
We're told if the economy is growing, and if we keep producing, that's a good thing. But at what cost? This hour, TED speakers explore circular systems that regenerate and re-use what we already have. Guests include economist Kate Raworth, environmental activist Tristram Stuart, landscape architect Kate Orff, entrepreneur David Katz, and graphic designer Jessi Arrington.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#504 The Art of Logic
How can mathematics help us have better arguments? This week we spend the hour with "The Art of Logic in an Illogical World" author, mathematician Eugenia Cheng, as she makes her case that the logic of mathematics can combine with emotional resonance to allow us to have better debates and arguments. Along the way we learn a lot about rigorous logic using arguments you're probably having every day, while also learning a lot about our own underlying beliefs and assumptions.