Impressive progress for the medical world.
Flanders was already a pioneer in the field of 3D printing for applications in aerospace, fashion and architecture sectors. This time, yet another step will be made with the 3D printing of human tissue.
Xpect-INX, a spin-off project of Ghent University, aims to develop "bio-inks" with a view to the 3D printing of biological cells, tissue and even entire organs, explains Jasper Van Hoorick, its co-founder and a researcher at Ghent University.
"Innovative materials developed at Ghent University now allow us to print human tissue with which we will largely be able to supply the medical sector," explains Jasper Van Hoorick. "The 3D printing of cells and tissue is very complex because the printed cells must be able to develop and work in the same way as normal human cells and interact with the existing cells so that the body can fully integrate them."
"One of the first applications we want to develop in the short-term is the creation of 3D cell culture imitating that of organs. This tissue will mainly be used to test drugs. As such, we would be able to reduce or replace medical testing on laboratory animals."
In the long-term, however, the technology could be used for breast reconstruction, for example, or even the replacement of heart valves or meniscus. And perhaps even one day, although it remains very complex, for printing entire organs, such as a liver.