Chinese blood vessel
Chinese scientists examine the results during testing of 30 monkeys to create blood vessels
A group of Chinese medical researchers have used 3D printing to create natural blood vessels.
Scientists at Sichuan Revotek developed the world’s first bio-printer in 2015 and have finally begun to produce fully functional blood vessels. The process uses bio ink made up of living stem cells from rhesus monkeys, before the printer fuses layers of new cells to the old ones.
Eventually the old and the new cells will begin to grow as one. Kang Yujian, Sichuan Revotek Chief Scientist, who has been heavily involved with the research claimed their findings were unparalleled.
“In five days, the new layer of endodermis will be formed,” Yujian explained. “Meanwhile, the smooth muscle cells will grow as well. Within 28 days all these cells will go through tissue differentiation. That means the tissue we implanted will have mingled with the original ones and grown into a regular vessel. This is unprecedented.”
Since the bio-printer was developed, experiments have been conducted on 30 rhesus monkeys. After months of observation, scientists discovered the 3D-printed vessels had completely blended. Equally as important, all of the subjects remained in good condition.
“Printing 3D blood vessels is quite remarkable,” said Dai Kerong, an Academic at the Chinese Academy of Engineering. “If we can apply this technology to blood vessels then we can also use it on livers, kidneys and other organs. That is how ground-breaking this technology is.”
Such is the efficiency of Sichuan Revotek’s bio-printer, ten-centimetre blood vessels can be printed in just two minutes, thanks to its two nozzles. At the heart of the technology is a stem cell culture system. This consists of seed cells and bio-links filled with growth factors and nutrients. When combined with other materials, the 3D bioprinter creates layered cell structures that can be cultivated to form tissues with other physiological functions.
While the technology is still in its early stages, Sichuan Revotek are confident the process can save the lives of those suffering from organ failure.