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Cultivated the first human liver tissue in the laboratory during a NASA challenge

Cultivated the first human liver tissue in the laboratory during a NASA challenge

During NASA’s Vascular Tissue Challenge, a competition launched by NASA in 2016, a team of scientists 3D printed the first human liver tissue capable of functioning for up to 30 days in the laboratory. NASA created this competition to find scientists capable of creating thick, vascularized human organ tissues in an in vitro environment to advance research and benefit medicine on long-term missions and on Earth.

Finally, not one, but two winners have been announced. The two teams, both made up of scientists from the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine in North Carolina, won first and second places with two different approaches to creating laboratory-grown human liver tissue. It was not possible to underestimate the amazing result achieved. Someday it will be great to hear about the first artificial organ transplant.

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NASA 3D printed human liver tissue in laboratory

Both teams have used similar 3D printing approaches to create their fabric prototype. The teams had to keep their tissues “alive” for 30 days. However, in order to engineer the tissues and make them survive they had to figure out how to move nutrients and oxygen through their creation and how to remove waste. Known as perfusion, this process is performed by the blood vessels in organic and living tissues, but this is an extremely difficult thing to artificially replicate.

Using different materials the two teams they made several gelatinous structures for their tissues that included channels through which oxygen and nutrients could pass. The teams were able to flow nutrients through their artificial blood vessels without loss. The team that won first place is the first team to complete its test with the fabric engineered according to the rules of the challenge e will receive $ 300,000 and the opportunity to carry out this work aboard the International Space Station. Second place will receive $ 100,000.

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Work is still underway for 3rd place; two teams are working on this place which in turn will receive $ 100,000. This technology could one day be applied to healthcare for astronauts. Researchers are somewhat optimistic that these constructs behave the same way they do on Earth.

Ph. Credit: Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine