3D-printing living blood vessels now a reality

by | Dec 7, 2015 | Biz/Tech

By Amanda Tuzi

Researchers from Lawrence Livermore National Labs (LLNL) in California have had a breakthrough that could lead to printable organs by successfully 3D-printing functional blood vessels that look and operate like the real thing.

3D bioprinters are comparable to conventional 3D printers, but instead of using inert materials they use bio-ink, which is basic structural building blocks that are adaptable to the human body.

The LLNL team created the 3D-printed blood vessels by combining a special biomaterial with living cells.

The release from LLNL said, “This process takes a while, so initially, tubes are printed out of cells and other biomaterials to deliver essential nutrients to the surrounding printed environment.”

“Eventually, the self-assembled capillaries are able to connect with the bio-printed tubes and deliver nutrients to the cells on their own, enabling these structures to function like they do in the body.”