Scientists from Ireland have healed a deep wound in a person using a 3D printer. They created biological ink from laboratory-improved patient blood and printed a structure from it to fit inside an open wound. Since the ink was rich in wound-healing platelets, the person quickly recovered from the injury. According to the researchers, the technology they used will be able to restore other tissues of the human body in the future – it will be possible not only to heal wounds, but also to correct other health problems. In general, the experience gained has had a good influence on the development of 3D printing technology in the field of medicine. Let’s take a look at the details of this scientific achievement.
Blood-Based 3D Printer Ink
The Irish scientists shared their achievement in the scientific journal Advanced Functional Materials . Relatively recently, they were faced with the task of healing a person from a deep wound. To do this, they took a blood sample from a patient and in the laboratory created platelet-rich plasma (PRP) from it. Initially, in the peripheral blood of a person, there are not so many platelets responsible for the rate of clotting and recovery of damaged tissues. But the researchers were able to increase their number in the laboratory. There is no point in describing exactly how this happens in this article – this is a complex process that takes a lot of time to explain.
Platelets are responsible for blood clotting
The platelet-rich plasma was subsequently mixed with a gelatin methacrylate hydrogel (GelMA). Thanks to him, the patient’s blood became much thicker, which made it possible to use it as ink for a 3D printer. Using printing equipment, scientists have created a structure capable of repairing wounds. Unfortunately, we could not find photographs of the printed design. So we cannot say what size it is and what exactly it is. In a simple surgical procedure, the structure was carefully placed into the patient’s wound.
Healing wounds with 3D printing
As expected, the platelets in the developed ink significantly accelerated wound healing. In particular, they launched the process of vascularization – the formation of new blood vessels. At the same time, they suppressed fibrosis, that is, they prevented tissue scarring. According to the professor of bioengineering Fergal O’Brien (Fergal O’Brien), in the future, the developed technology will not only heal wounds, but also be used to repair other tissues. He did not give examples, but, most likely, we are talking about the treatment of human internal organs. If so, 3D printing technology will one day be able to save many lives.
In the future, 3D printing could help treat serious illnesses
As I wrote above, today scientists are able to print full-fledged human organs. This process looks a little different from the described case. In short, researchers take samples of living cells, place them on the surface of supporting structures, and propagate them. As a rule, the finest plastic threads are used as the basis for printing organs. After the formation of the desired organ, scientists expose the base to ultraviolet light and it is destroyed. It sounds very high-tech, but this method has several drawbacks, which I talked about in this article .
Typically, home 3D printers are used to print simple knick-knacks. But, as we have already seen, these devices can save many lives in the future. In addition to medicine, 3D printing is even used in construction – a couple of years ago we talked about how a huge printer began to build an entire residential area .