Posted by: bioprint1 | February 12, 2013

It’s the moment we’ve all been waiting for!

Tune into our webinar tomorrow at 1:30 at

See you there!

Sincerely, BP

Posted by: bioprint1 | January 18, 2013

How to learn more about bioprinting

For those of you who would like to learn more about this topic, we can help you!

1) Continue to check up on our Facebook page at for continuous updates and information on biological printing. We strive to keep you informed and interested on that page with facts, videos and pictures.

2) Follow us on Twitter @BioPrint1 as we are constantly tweeting small facts and insights into the world of bioprinting along with blog updates.

3) Our exclusive BioPrint webinar (an online seminar)! This webinar will go into depth about the process of bioprinting, and will be packed with interesting information to expand your mind and open your eyes to the current possibilities with 3D organ printing. Be sure to check on our social media pages for the exact date to attend the webinar! We will be announcing it 1 week prior and counting down the days!

Mark your calendars and remember to check it out; you will not be disappointed! We appreciate your support!

Sincerely, BP

Posted by: bioprint1 | December 7, 2012

Key Players in Bioprinting

Bioprinting has come a long way over the last number of years as a result of the hard work of many individuals and teams in the field. Bioprinting would not be where it is at today if it weren’t for these dedicated individuals that are constantly researching and advancing the possibilities of 3D biological organ printing.

One important figure was mentioned in our previous blogs; Dr. Shinya Yamanaka, Nobel Prize winner for his discovery of the process to revert adult cells into stem cells, thereby providing a solution to the stem cell controversy.

Another person who has had a huge impact on bioprinting is Dr. Anthony Atala, who works at the Children’s Hospital in Boston. Dr. Atala was able to successfully print a human bladder which had been implanted into a young patient with Spina Bifida, the malformation in fetal development causing a split spine. This young patient made a full recovery. His work is very inspiring, and has helped not only that young patient but the entire field of bioprinting as well.

The team of researchers at Wake Forest University in North Carolina has also made a big impact on the bioprinting world. They have developed a device that fits over a hospital bed, which can print new cells directly over burnt or wounded cells on a patient. This will drastically reduce both the healing time and the level of discomfort experienced by burn victims. This technology is truly amazing, and it can change many lives in the future.
These are only a few of a long list of people and teams that have played a large part in the advancement of bioprinting technology and processes. We chose to acknowledge them because they have helped people that were suffering and deserve recognition for that. It is minds like these that will help to make biological printing a reality and motivate our student team to continue our research on bioprinting for our webinar.

Thanks for reading!

Sincerely, BP

Posted by: bioprint1 | November 29, 2012

A Close Call

The term “racing against the clock” may never have been more fitting than for the case of 30 year old Claudia Castillo, who needed a trachea transplant as a result of contracting tuberculosis. The trachea, commonly known as the windpipe, is a 4-6 inch tube in the throat that allows air to flow into the lungs. Why Claudia’s situation was so unique is that instead of choosing the typical transplant route, which is unfortunately a very lengthy one of waiting for an organ donor, she decided to have a new trachea biologically printed for her.

The doctors at Bristol University in England had previously taken the stem cells from Claudia’s bone marrow and turned them into tracheal cells (the process developed by Doctor Shinya Yamanaka, as discussed in our previous blog). The doctors then submerged the trachea into a large amount of Claudia’s new-tracheal stem cells. The newly created trachea had to be implanted into Claudia within a very small window of only 16 hours.

Along the way, a problem occurred in transporting the printed organ – one that almost destroyed all chances of the operation even taking place. EasyJet, the airline being used to transfer the organ from England to Barcelona to where Claudia was waiting, would not allow for the organ to come onto the plane, despite Bristol University having had numerous conversations to ensure there would be no trouble during the transfer. Luckily, there is a happy ending to all of this; Philipp Jungerbluth, the medical student who was transferring the organ to Barcelona, had a friend who was a pilot and was able to pick up the organ and deliver it to Barcelona, and the resulting operation was a pure success.

The entire procedure cost the university $21,000, but their revolutionary work demonstrates the great benefits of recreating organs using the patient’s own stem cells, as Claudia has shown no signs of rejection even without the use of immunosuppressant drugs. Such successes are a great motivator for researching further improvements and advances in bioprinting.


Have you heard of any other related success stories like this? Tweet at us if you have one to share @BioPrint1.

Sincerely, BP

Karen Richardson is the Communications Manager at Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine and Department of Urology. She helped us pass along some questions to a team of scientists.

Here is what we learned!

Q: How does an organ bridge or connect to the new host in regards to a normal transplant?
A: The eventual goal is to print a vascular system that can be connected with the body’s circulatory system.

Q: With the technology to print or renew our organs, do you think it will prolong the life of human by a significant amount provided that we do regular body maintenance by simply replacing the part that has been worn out?
A: The primary goal of our work is to help improve the quality of patient’s lives. As far as extending the normal lifespan, we believe that regenerative medicine – along with preventive medicine and other medical advances – will play a role in gradually increasing the average human lifespan, just as it has increased over the past centuries. But the goal of regenerative medicine isn’t immortality, it is to improve patients’ lives and, in some cases, hopefully to even cure disease.

Q: What is the shelf life for engineered organs; what means are required to sustain them?
A: This issue has not yet been fully explored because currently, lab-grown organs and tissues are made one-by-one for small groups of patients participating in clinical trials. The organ or tissue is implanted shortly after it is ready. Your question is good and the issue will need to be explored as the science of regenerative medicine advances.

Q: How long does it take to get an engineered organ to mature and what are the challenges?
A: With the bladder, for example, it took approximately seven to eight weeks to engineer the organ once a small tissue biopsy was obtained from the patient.

Q: Approximately how many cells are required for bones and organ printing?
A: Bioprinting requires millions of cells. For example, to print a small ear structure requires about 120 million cartilage cells.

Q: Is bioprinting affordable for the average person?
A: The costs of regenerative medicine therapies will be determined once they have been approved by regulatory agencies and are available for widespread use. It is important to realize that the potential of regenerative medicine is to restore function and potentially cure disease. With a disease such as kidney failure, for example, it will be important to consider that in the U.S., billions of dollars are spent to provide dialysis treatments to patients with kidney failure. A therapy to restore organ function could be less expensive than years of dialysis treatment and the associated health complications.

Q: How far are we from the actual use of organs for transplants; 10, 15 years?
A: The nature of science is that there are both unexpected setbacks and breakthroughs, so it really is impossible to predict how long this project will take. Our guess is at least a decade and likely more.

Q: What are your thoughts about this technology; in regards to both applicability and ethics?
A: With tissue engineering, the ideal is to use a patient’s own cells. We are basically returning the patient’s cells to him – along with a biocompatible scaffold to support cell growth – so there are no ethical implications.

Finally, we would like to give a big thank-you to Karen and the scientists at Wake Forest for their help, and to our readers, retweet us on Twitter or comment on our Facebook page if you read this blog post!

Sincerely, BP

Posted by: bioprint1 | November 15, 2012

Interview with Doctor Jordan S. Miller

Dr. Jordan S. Miller is a postdoctoral colleague at the University of Pennsylvania in Dr. Christopher S. Chen’s Tissue Microfabrication Laboratory in the Department of Bioengineering. He is also a board member of Hive76. Before his time at Penn, he was a developer at RepRap and an associate at PTV Sciences. Dr. Miller received a PhD from Rice University and earned his undergraduate degree from MIT.

We had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Miller over Skype this month to discuss some questions we had about bioprinting and it’s progress. Here is what we found out!

Q: How does an organ bridge/connect to the new host in regards to normal transplant?

A: In normal cases, a donors organ that is separate from the patients own organs, has an artery and veins. Doctors connect as many vascular connections as they can make. To “bridge” the organ to the patient, surgeons attach the corresponding artery and veinsin the patient to the artery and veins in the donated organ.

Q: With the technology to print/renew our organs, do you think it will prolong the life of human by a significant amount by simply replacing the part that has been worn out?

A: A regular transplant would prolong life for a very long time, much better and for longer than using an anything made in the lab. Lab-generated organs cannot be fully considered as organs, exactly. Because of this they are called organoids. Complexities made in lab are much less sophisticated as the ones naturally found in the body.

For example, for the liver there are several dozen types of cells, and all perform a different type of function. The livers that we are making now in the lab only have about one or two cell types in them. Nowhere near the complexity naturally found in the body. Short term prolongation of life is possible in the perceivable future;however, not actually used to perform as permanent organs and replacing organ donors fully, but could be used for the short term until an organ donor is available.

Q: Could it possibly be used for just repairing a part of an organ?

A: Yes it can for sure be used to do that as well.

Q: What is the shelf life for engineered organs; what means are required to sustain them?

A: Normally, we first take a sample of the patient’s own cells and from that actually make more cells in lab. To do that, flat Petri dishes are used. We then make a scaffold, a material that is used to form the shape of the desired organ or vein. Typically it has been thin organs (ex, skin, cornea or bladder) so it is a thin layer of material made by people in the lab and on that material they place the patients cells. The cells than begin to grow and in a way, evade (?) that material. If fully and successfully evaded, can be placed into the patient. When the cells have finished adhering to the material, the shelf life is probably only a few days; you would want to implant the organ into the body right away.

Q: How long does it take to get an engineered organ to mature and what are the challenges?

A: Depends on the tissue type and organ type. For example, the cornea would take a couple of days and for others, it would take a week to grow enough cells for the specialized tissue. So it all depends on the scale of the organ, and also how much source material you can have. If you can only take a small biopsy from the patient than you wont be able to grow up a lot of cells quickly, but if you’re able to take a larger biopsy you would be able to grow more cells quicker.

Q: Approximately how many cells are required for bones and organ printing?

A: One or two cell types, but we’re able to create millions of cells in lab to create organs. The ability to create multiple cell types to perform all the same functions in natural tissues has not yet been reached. Generally most tissues and organs have multiple cell types; some cells make up the vascular cells, so all the blood vessels are all one type of cell, and they for the most part can make capillaries on their own. People know how to do that in lab, in organs they each have their own active type of cell, so in the kidney there be kidney cells, and liver there would be liver cells and so on. These cells are the main ones performing the specialized function, so that is then facilitated by the cells that make up the blood vessels and these are the cells that are laid down on the lab created material. They are kind of protein cells types, called fibroblasts, that make up a majority of the physical component of the organs and tissues. For bones, there are cells that make up the calcium enriched bone deposits, and others that take it away. So, there is interplay between those two cell types. For other organs there are immune cells that are always on patrol for injury and infection.

Q: Are we not able to make certain type of cells yet, for example the immune cells?

A: We can’t make those in lab, so the idea is to actually implant the organ and have the patients own immune cells migrate back in if the organ is not initially rejected. We don’t fully understand these cells, theoretically if we knew everything cells had to do, we could recreate that and have multiple cell types but we just still don’t know how to do that at the moment.

Q: How is the testing the process done, to test how natural cells, for example immune cells, transfer to the lab generated organ? Would you be using animals?

A: What we have been doing has only been done in the lab, so done in vitro. We can grow up cells and put them in structures, and we’re working towards larger structures. So right now they are 1 cm on each side, made into a cube and we can actually measure how well the cells are surviving in the structure and measure how well the cells are doing in this structure, in an environment that cells are not normally in. So an example is we put liver cells in this cube, that have blood vessel structure that we made, and we measure the proteins and chemicals livers cell normally make, one is called albumin, and biotin.

Then after you do in vitro, during the process of making it so implants can be done with humans, you have to do implants in animals and see how those cells perform in that type of environment.

Q: What are your thoughts about this technology in regards to ethics?

A: In regards to animal testing that has always been an ethical issue in various medical fields and with also the general public. It is up to the scientist and interaction with their communities, and also the legality of it depending on what country you live in or what state. Also the ethics surrounding it that are taught in school, especially bio ethics research.

If we didn’t have to do animal studies it would be ideal, but even people who do not favor animal studies wouldn’t recommend going directly from in vitro to directly testing on humans.

What is exciting is people are learning more and more about how to grow human cells outside of the human body. So potentially you can make large structure of organs, you can test cells on these lab generated organs instead of animal testing.

Q: We also have learned that there is research on generating organs so drugs can be tested on them.

A: Yes, there is a lot of support for that area especially from pharmaceutical companies. With enough financial support, it can break through a lot of barriers and large-scale investigations can be done.

Q: How far are we from the actual use of organs for transplants?

A: There are humans living today with tissues and organs created in lab. For example with skin, cornea and the bladder. Last year, a tricera was down, so the wind pipe, so again thin tissue organs that are easily architected are available. But more complex organs it will most likely be another 30 years before those transplants are available.

Q: Will bioprinting be affordable for the average person?

A: These things always start off at low volume, even if they are wildly successful it always begins with a low population, over time the technology will become more standardized and commoditized and come off patent. When that happens it becomes available to a very large audience so, think like drugs that are over the counter now used to be only available through prescription. Not that organs will be available over the counter, but when you think about antibiotics that are prescribed, anyone can get prescribed anti biotics from their doctors. Hopefully down the road in our lifetime if a doctor determines you need a new organ he can just take a tissue sample from you and that can be used to create a new organ to be implanted maybe two months after that is made from your own cells.

We do want to see it more widespread because there are more and more people who need organs and there are not enough available organs.

We are so appreciative that we had the chance to interview an industry expert! It was very exciting to speak with Dr. Jordan Miller and hear his insights on bioprinting. We were also given the opportunity to speak with another expert in the field recently so remember to keep on coming back every Thursday to gain more insight on the evolution of bioprinting!

Retweet us on Twitter or post a comment on our Facebook page if you read this blog post!


Posted by: bioprint1 | November 8, 2012

Success Stories

There are currently many new advances in the field of regenerative bioengineering, the field that bioprinting falls into. Many of these advances are founded by a certain individual, Dr. Forgacs, a biophysicist who is currently head researcher at a biophysics lab called Forgacslab at the University of Missouri-Columbia. His research on developmental biology provides groundbreaking advancements for bioprinting.

Dr. Forgacs’s newest pursuit is to use his organ printer to print organs that may not have the same physical appearance as the organs in our bodies, but would still have the capability to function like the original organ, such as a kidney or lung. This may be the easier route towards having “organs” available for transplants for thousands of patients, as the focus of his pursuit is the function of the organ instead of its cosmetic value.

Another research team that has been making headway in organ printing and regenerative medicine is a husband-wife research team from Washington State University. Susmita Bose and her husband, Amit Bandyopadhyay, have developed the WSU bone printer, a 3D printer that develops artificial bone-like materials. This has recently attracted media attention because of their success with Invitro growth of bones around artificial scaffolds. Artificial bone scaffolds would enable doctors to repair defects or injuries without taking a bone graph from elsewhere in the patient’s body or using a synthetic mesh material that can have negative long-term effects. Bose’s scaffolding harmlessly dissolves as new bone grows around it. This shows great advancement towards the printing of organs, as the dissolving technique can be used to recreate the hollow shape of organs.

A company called Organovo has also been successful in the bioprinting world. They have recently come out with the first commercial printer able to create human tissue. This is a great advancement in the medical and pharmaceutical industry as it reduces time and money required for drug research. This technology can reduce the time its takes to receive medical attention, and can potentially save billions of dollars for companies.

With these promising individuals and teams researching and constantly advancing the feasibility of this technology, we are another step closer to a brighter future.
Thank you again for reading our blog. If you have any questions about this posting or bioprinting in general, please let us know and we will ask our bioprint expert in our upcoming interview! Tweet us if you read this post @BioPrint1 !


Posted by: bioprint1 | November 2, 2012

The Use of Stem Cells in Bioprinting

Our previous blog post outlined many of the challenges present in the field of bioprinting. With the help of research, funding and advancement in technology these challenges faced can be conquered. However, there is another challenge this field faces that is not helped by any amount of scientific advancement in the field; the moral controversy of using stem cells.

Let us first discuss, what exactly stem cells are. Stem cells act as a repair system for the body, replenishing adult tissues. There are two categories of stem cells: adult stem cells and embryonic stem cells. Adult stem cells can be extracted through bone marrow, adipose tissue (fat) and blood. Embryonic stem cells, as the name alludes, are derived from embryos – thus, opening the door for discussion revolving around ethical concerns.

What distinguishes embryonic stem cells from adult stem cells is that they are pluripotent; meaning that they have the potential to adopt a variety of cell specialized functions. Using embryonic stem cells in “bio-ink” would lead to vast improvements in printed organs. The regenerative power of these stem cells could be harnessed for repairing extensive tissue damage, for example; serious burn victims.

On the other hand, there are possible alternatives to using embryonic stem cells. Doctor Shinya Yamanaka, who has recently been awarded with the Nobel Prize in medicine, has discovered a way to revert adult cells into pluripotent stem cells. This gives the adult cells the ability to become specialized cells for repairing damaged tissues. Doctor Yamanaka has achieved this process by adding 4 genes to the skin cells. These genes reprogram the cells into a stem cell state, which can then be directed to become various specialized cells, taking the form of a normal cell in an organ that needs repair or replacement. This breakthrough will allow the cell sample to be taken from the patient, which could in turn reduce the chances of the body rejecting the tissue or organs reproduced through bioprinting. Dr. Yamanaka’s groundbreaking research shows great promise for the continuous progress of bioprinting, leading the world one step closer to the use of 3D printed organs!

Lastly, we’d like to thank everyone who has been reading and following us on Facebook! If you have any questions about this article and/or enjoyed reading it, send us a tweet @BioPrint1 !!

– Sincerely BP

Posted by: bioprint1 | October 31, 2012

The Challenges with Bioprinting

Biological printing has come a very long way to get to where it is today, and is relatively close to becoming a viable option in the medical field. This being said, there are still many challenges that must be overcome in order for it to become a practical and successful tool.

Challenge 1: The cost of the technology. 3D printing technology has been around for over 20 years, but it wasn’t until recently that it became more affordable for universities and other research groups. The lack of technology has slowed advancements, but as the technology needed is now more widely available, this problem has become less of an issue.

Challenge 2: The length of time needed for the printing process. It is estimated that it would take 10 days to print a human kidney, and six to eight weeks for a functioning bladder to be produced. This problem is currently being improved, and with further research and more experience in this field, shorter printing times are to be expected in the future.

Challenge 3: Finding a cell source. This involves locating cells that are suitable as a base for use in tissue engineering. Current bioprinting uses stem cells as the base, but once again, more experimental research is required in order to fully understand and take advantage of this printing process.

Challenge 4: Scientists are finding it difficult to generate vascularized tissues. Tissue vascularization is to restore blood flow back to the organ that was replaced, or in other words, connecting the new organ to the body. Several methods are currently being tested in regards to this issue, and a solution is close to being reached.

Biological printing is facing a number of challenges, which is only to be expected when working with something as groundbreaking and complex as it is. These challenges are being addressed and advancements are being made daily, bringing the project ever closer to becoming accepted as a common and useable means in the medical field.

– Sincerely, BP

Posted by: bioprint1 | October 30, 2012

The Benefits of Bioprinting

From our previous blog post, you can tell that printing organs is one of the most exciting scientific advances of our time. The only problem is that the technology doesn’t get enough credit for the potential that it has. There are countless benefits to being able to print organs and tissue.

However, it is an unfortunate truth that on average, seventeen people in North America die every day due to the lack of organ donations. There are currently a hundred thousand people waiting for organ transplants, and there are simply not enough donors to meet the demand.

With bio printing, thousands of lives can be saved worldwide. If organs could be printed, only the positive aspects of organ donations would remain, as it is not necessary for a life to be lost in order to save another one. 3D printing is arguably one of the most important inventions of the 20th century.

With our current technology, it would take around 10 days to print a liver. As technology improves, it is estimated that scientists could print a liver in three hours. That’s great news for the thousands of people who are waiting for an organ transplant to save their life.

The creation of organs through 3D printing has another less mentioned function as well. If we could test drugs on functional printed human organs, for example a liver, this could save millions of dollars and greatly reduce the time taken to develop and test new drugs on animals before it is even considered for human testing. It would also be very beneficial for human volunteers because they would not have to be tested on directly, limiting the chance of suffering from side effects of the drugs being tested, while still being paid for providing their cells as a basis for a new organ to be printed and used.

The future of bio printing is very promising, and it has the potential to have a major impact on the medical field in the future.

– Sincerely BP

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