21 May 2013
This is no ordinary printout. The pattern has been created not by ink, but by living human cells. Two types – stem cells (stained red) and blood vessel wall cells (stained green) – have been positioned on a patch using a device that’s similar to an office inkjet printer. Each cell type is released onto the patch in a set order, just as droplets of ink are printed onto paper. When the patch was applied to a damaged rat heart, the stem cells were able to help the blood vessels regenerate. Cells printed into a grid like this did a better job than those randomly jumbled up on the patch. Scientists now are beginning to print cells in three dimensions, creating made-to-order structures that resemble living tissues. Perhaps one day they will be able to print out whole organs at the touch of a button.
Written by Emma Stoye
- Wenzhong Li, Gustav Steinhoff
- Reference and Translation Center for Cardiac Stem Cell Therapy, University of Rostock, Germany
- Copyright Elsevier 2012
- Published in Biomaterials 32(35): 9218-9230