Swansea University (Wales) has developed a technology for printing parts of the human body on a 3D printer. In three years, they hope to complete successful human clinical trials and introduce the technology into reconstructive surgery practice, according to the BBC.
Nowadays, people who are born with defects or have lost body parts as a result of burns, trauma or cancer usually use plastic prostheses. However, such prostheses are perceived by the body as a foreign body, and according to patients, it would be better if their own tissue was used for reconstruction. Scientists intend to create a special "cartilaginous" base on which it will be possible to grow the patient's own stem cells.
This will require "bio-ink" - it will be created from nanocellulose obtained from plants and stem cells specific to human cartilage taken from the patient. The bio-ink will print a three-dimensional structure that is implanted into the human body. Layer by layer, a nozzle-equipped machine will apply "bio-ink", printing noses or ears according to a given design. Such a technology would make it possible to do without tissue, which plastic surgeons usually take from patients from other parts of the body - this is a very painful manipulation that leaves new scars.
Scientists are now working to make sure bio-ink is safe, non-toxic, and well tolerated by the immune system. If successful, human clinical trials will begin.