Stem cell science just took a giant leap forward thanks to the work of a group of U.K. researchers at Heriot-Watt University who have developed a way to use 3D printing to arrange stem cells into structures that could be grown into organs.
The findings, published in the journal Biofabrication, reveal a method that allows the scientists to use what they call an adjustable micro-valve 3D printer to construct layers of embryonic stem cells (hESCs). Those hESC layers can then be used as the basis for creating a wide range of cells in organ-like structures. At present, the scientists are presenting the findings as a way to conduct more accurate research without the need for animal testing, rather than as a fast track toward fabricating replacement organs for humans.
However, one of the researchers offered some hope for the future, telling the BBC, "this is a scientific development which we hope and believe will have immensely valuable long-term implications… to provide organs for transplant on demand, without the need for donation and without the problems of immune suppression and potential organ rejection."
You learn more about the breakthrough at the Heriot-Watt University research site.