Archive for Ekim, 2016

Organs to Order: 3D ‘Bioprinter’ Makes Replacement Bones, Ears

Scientists can now “print” human-size bones, cartilage and muscle, using a new device called a 3D bioprinter, according to a new study.

The tissue and organ structures produced by the printer could one day be used to replace injured or diseased tissues in human patients, the researchers said.

“This novel tissue and organ printer is an important advance in our quest to make replacement tissue for patients,” senior study author Dr. Anthony Atala, director of the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine, said in a statement. “It can fabricate stable, human-scale tissue of any shape.”

The demand for engineered tissues and organs has been on the rise because of the limited availability of donated tissue and organs for transplants in people who need them, the researchers said. One promising way to make these tissues and organs is through the use of precise 3D bioprinters, which can lay cells down onto a scaffold in layers, in specific patterns.

Although scientists had previously engineered relatively simple tissues in the lab, those tissues were not strong enough to be implanted in the body, or they did not re-create enough of the complexity of real human tissues to be useful, the researchers said. [See Photos: Muscles and Bones Made with New ‘Bioprinter’]

Another limitation was these tissues’ lack of blood vessels. This constrained the tissues’ size, because the nutrients and oxygen that are necessary for maintaining cells cannot not reach far enough into tissues for the cells to survive unless vessels are present, the scientists said.

Now, with a new 3D printing system, the researchers were able to overcome these challenges, they reported today (Feb. 15) in the journal Nature Biotechnology.

The device prints cells together with polymer materials that help to form and mimic the shape of the original tissues. To overcome the issue of the size limit, the researchers printed a lattice of micro channels throughout the tissues so that nutrients and oxygen could be delivered to cells deep within the tissues. These channels allow “nutrients to get to the cells and keep feeding them so they don’t die,” Atala told Live Science.

In experiments, the researchers were able to print rabbit cells into human-size ear structures, and then implant these structures under the skin of mice. Two months later, the ear structures maintained their shapes; they had not broken down at all within the body. Moreover, cartilage tissue and blood vessels had formed around the structures, to support them.

The researchers also used mouse and rat cells to print muscle tissue and fragments of skull bones, and implant them into rats. The muscle tissue maintained its structure for at least week, and also developed blood vessels and induced the formation of nerves. The skull fragments had formed bone tissue with blood vessels by five months after being implanted.

The researchers even printed human-size jawbone fragments using human stem cells. The fragments were the size and shape of fragments that would potentially be used for facial reconstruction in people.

However, more research is needed before such 3D printed tissues could be tested in human patients, Atala said.

For example, making tissues that could be transplanted to humans would need to involve clinical-grade human cells, and these would ideally be derived from the patient who would receive the transplanted tissue, the researchers said.


Egyptian Mummy’s Face Recreated with 3D Printing

An Egyptian mummy’s head and face have been reconstructed with forensic science and 3D printing, offering scientists a tantalizing glimpse of the individual’s life and death.

The mummified head was discovered by accident in the collections of the University of Melbourne in Australia. A museum curator happened upon the remains during an audit and, concerned about the state of the specimen, sent it for a computed tomography(CT) scan.

“Turns out, [the skull] is actually quite intact; it has got bandages and looks well on the inside,” said Varsha Pilbrow, a biological anthropologist in the University of Melbourne’s Department of Anatomy and Neuroscience. “Of course, that then allowed us to think what to do next.”

With the help of an imaging specialist, Pilbrow and her team used the scans to create a 3D-printed replica of the mummy’s skull. Then, the scientists studied the specimen’s facial-bone features, such as the size and angle of the jaw and characteristics of the eye sockets, to determine that the head belonged to a female. The researchers are calling the specimen Meritamun. They say she was probably not more than 25 years old at the time of her death and was important enough to be mummified.

“It is quite fascinating that we did all of this without destroying the specimen in any way, and that is important from a museum curatorial point of view,” Pilbrow said.

The true origins of the mummified head are still unknown, though. Scientists think it belonged in the collections of Frederic Wood Jones, a professor who conducted archeological work in Egypt before joining as the head of anatomy at the University of Melbourne in 1930. From the distinctive style of the linen bandaging and embalming of the specimen, the researchers think Meritamun was mummified in Egypt and that she may have lived at least 2,000 years ago. They will now use radiocarbon dating to date the specimen more precisely, the scientists said.

        Meanwhile, the CT scans and 3D-printed replica of the skull are revealing other details about Meritamun, including her dental abnormalities and diseases she might have had.

“We noticed that the top of her skull is very thin. It is extremely porous,” Pilbrow told Live Science. “It suggests that she would have suffered from severe anemia.”

A deficiency of hemoglobin and oxygen would have led to the swelling of bone marrow — as it tried to produce more red blood cells — and thinning of the skull bone, Pilbrow said.

“Anemia and dental pathologies were quite prevalent among Egyptian populations,” Pilbrow said.This provides just one possible clue about how Meritamun died, but Pilbrow and her co-workers are continuing to dig into other factors that may have cost the young woman her life.

The research has yet to be published in a peer-reviewed journal.

CES 2016: Your Favorite Tech Is Finally Growing Up

LAS VEGAS — What do 3D printers, drones, driverless cars and fitness trackers have in common? For one thing, all of these technologies are front and center here at this year’s CES. But perhaps more important, these cool tech gadgets are finally growing up, said Shawn DuBravac, chief economist for the Consumer Technology Association.

In a talk here today (Jan. 5), DuBravac told a packed house about what he sees as the defining trends of CES 2016. Among them is something that he called the “maturing of nascent ecosystems.” In other words, all of the cutting-edge gadgetry from past shows — like the 3D printers that churned out plastic bobble heads in 2014 and the fitness wearables that ceaselessly measured heart rate or body temperature at last year’s show — these devices are growing up, or finding their place in the real world.

“I see a change in the dialogue around CES in just the last 12 to 18 months,” DuBravac said. “We’re talking increasingly about what’s technologically meaningful compared to what’s technologically possible.”

This shift away from “technology for technology’s sake” toward technology that serves some greater, utilitarian purpose is playing out across the show floor at CES. For example, Whirlpool is showing off a line of smart appliances that connect to the Nest smart thermostat system. Nest tells your appliances when you’re away from home, so the dishwasher will automatically run when you’re at the office instead of when you’re trying to enjoy a quiet evening in your kitchen. Another example of this shift is Aipoly — an app that uses a smartphone’s cameras and internal sensors to help visually impaired people identify common objects.

Whirlpool and Aipoly have developed dramatically different technologies, but, as DuBravac pointed out, both are examples of intrinsically useful and meaningful technology, rather than just new and trendy. And meaningful tech tools are even cropping up in places where you might least expect them, such as the virtual reality section of the show floor.

While VR was an essential part of last year’s show, the technology has only started to really hit its stride in the past year, according to DuBravac. VR-gaming headsets from companies like Oculus Rift and Sony caught everyone’s attention in 2015, but this year brings 360-degree cameras and audio systems to the forefront — a move that signals VR’s expansion out of the gaming world and into different categories, DuBravac said.

“In 10 years, we’ll start to book cruises [with VR]. Before we book a cruise or go on a vacation, we’ll walk into the restaurants, walk the pool deck or look at different cabins to get a feel for the different sizes,” DuBravac said. And in the not-too-distant future, you can expect to watch YouTube videos in 3D on a VR headset, or use one of these devices in a science classroom, he added. [Check out CES 2016 coverage on our sister site, Tom’s Guide]

Other technologies that are coming of age perhaps at this year’s CES include 3D printing (goodbye, plastic doodads; hello, printed metal bike parts) and drones. (There’s a drone here that can be programmed to follow you around and film everything you do.)

Of course, the CES show floor doesn’t officially open until tomorrow (Jan. 6), so stay tuned right here on Live Science for more news on how your favorite technology is evolving, or follow our sister site, Tom’s Guide, for insight into this year’s top tech trends.