Elizabeth Boorman April 1, 2014

What would the world be like with 3D-printed organs made from real human tissue? Researchers at the Sabanci University in Turkey took us one step forward to this reality as they were the first to 3D print anatomically accurate aorta cells. To achieve this accuracy, the group of researchers used Materialise’s Mimics Innovation Suite software to use the patient’s MRI data as input for a 3D reconstruction. With the Suite, the researchers were able to calculate the wall thickness and create a roadmap for the structures to be 3D printed.

They then converted the file to an STL format so the cells could be printable. More specifically, the research team cultivated and printed living human fibroblast cells with a hydrogel to form the aorta structure. The hydrogel was then incubated for seven days until an anatomically accurate section of the blood vessel was formed.

SU Research Team

The team chose the aorta because it’s the largest artery in the body and pumps blood to the organs in the body. By 3D Printing these cells, the team hopes to one day save the lives of patients who suffer from aortic diseases such as aneurysms or dissections.

3D Printed Human Cell

This is truly an important step forward in personalized medicine. Whereas other research organizations, such as the company Organovo, have 3D printed cellular arrays made from liver tissue, the Sabanci research team has used actual MRI data of a patient’s aorta to create cells made specifically for this patient. This new method could prove to be particularly useful to 3D print tailored organs for patients: imagine a patient who needs a liver transplant receiving a healthy functioning liver made just for his/her body. This would be an alternative to today’s donor list system, where patients often have long waiting times and a high risk of receiving organs that are incompatible with their body.

We are excited to see what this novel technology can bring in the future! Learn more about Materialise’s solutions for biomedical engineering and see personalized medicine in action.