Scottish researchers 3d print human cells
The 3D stem cell printing team at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh have made a new breakthrough which could pave the way to individually tailored drug testing regimes.
Their hope is that the development could reduce the need for animal testing. The technology could also help ensure patients receive drugs which are most effective for their individual needs.
A team of researchers led by Dr Will Shu at the university’s School of Engineering and Physical Sciences put together a 3D printer capable of working with delicate stem cells.
Working in conjunction with Roslin Cellab, the team have now refined the printer to make it capable of printing induced stem cells, derived from a donor’s own adult cells, which are capable of developing into almost any other cell in the body.
A report on the team’s work has been published in the IOP journal Biofabrication.
Dr Shu said: “This study is the first to demonstrate that human induced pluripotent stem cells, that is stem cells derived from the adult patient’s own cells, can be bioprinted without adversely affecting their biological functions; that our 3D printing process is gentle enough to do this.
“In this instance we showed that after printing we could turn the stem cells into liver cells.”
In the short term, the researchers plan to use the cell printing process to make miniature 3D human tissues for testing pharmaceutical drugs.
Once the technique is established, specifically made tissue from an individual patient would enable doctors to prescribe drugs most likely to work for the patient and with fewest side effects.