It’s no longer a difficult thing to 3D print the blood vessel now. Researchers at Lawrence Livemore National Laboratory have successfully 3D printed blood vessels that carry nutrients and self-assemble like the real thing. To create the vessels the team used special 3D bioprinters. The printers create objects using “bio-ink”, a material that is designed to be compatible with living human tissue.
Before passing blood and essential nutrients through these vessels, two small vessels were printed out of the bio-ink. And finally, the team found that capillaries grew and connected the two vessels.
“We’re leveraging the body’s ability for self-directed growth, and you end up with something that is more true to physiology. We can put the cells in an environment where they know, ‘I need to build blood vessels.’ With this technology we guide and orchestrate the biology,” said Monica Moya, chief investigator of the project in the laboratory statement.
The actual structures don’t resemble accurately what you’d find in a person right now. You get an unorganized (like a spaghetti bowl) network of blood vessels. However, the researchers plan to form these vessels the way they live in the human body.
The vessels are suitable for medical treatment testing and toxicology studies though it’s not possible to transplant those vessels. Soon there will be a brand new 3D bioprinting lab equipped with more accurate printer of high resolution and larger structures. One day, you could see artificial tissue samples that can even be transplanted.