NASA is a few inches closer to printing artificial organs in space


In the U.S., at least 17 people a day Died while waiting for an organ transplant. But instead of waiting for the death of the donor, how about one day we can grow our own organs?

Last week, six years later NASA announced the Vascular Tissue Challenge, A competition aimed at accelerating research that might one day lead to artificial organs, the agency named two winning teams. This challenge required the team to create thick, vascularized human organ tissues that can survive 30 days.

Two teams named Winston and WFIRM are from Wake Forest Institute of Regenerative Medicine, Using different 3D printing technologies to create laboratory-cultured liver tissue to meet all NASA requirements and maintain its function.

“We did use two different methods, because when you look at tissues and blood vessels, you see that the body is doing two main things,” said Anthony Atala, WFIRM team leader and research institute director.

The difference between these two methods lies in the way in which vascularization is achieved-how blood vessels are formed in the body. One uses a tubular structure and another spongy tissue structure to help transport cell nutrients and remove waste. Atala said this challenge represents a hallmark of bioengineering, because the liver is the largest internal organ in the body, and due to the large number of functions it performs, it is one of the most complex tissues.

Liver tissue created by the Winston team for NASA’s vascular tissue challenge.

Wake Forest Institute of Regenerative Medicine

“When the game started six years ago, we knew we had been working hard to solve this problem,” Atala said.

In addition to advancing the field of regenerative medicine and making it easier to make artificial organs for humans in need of transplantation, the project could one day help astronauts perform future deep space missions.

The concept of tissue engineering has existed for more than 20 years, saying Laura Nick Larson, Professor of Anesthesia and Biomedical Engineering at Yale University, but the growing interest in space experiments is beginning to change the field. “Especially when the world is focusing on private and commercial space travel, the biological effects of low gravity will become more and more important. This is a great tool to help understand this.”

But the winning team still has to overcome one of the biggest obstacles in tissue engineering: “It is really challenging to keep objects alive for a longer period of time and maintain their function,” said Andrea O’ConnorDean of the Department of Biomedical Engineering at the University of Melbourne, he described the project as ambitious as everyone else.

With a cash prize of $300,000, the first team Winston soon had the opportunity to send its research to the International Space Station, where similar organ research has already been conducted.

in In 2019, Astronaut Christina Koch launched the Biological Manufacturing Facility (BFF), which was created by the Aerospace Research Company in Greenville, Indiana Technical photos Print organic tissue under microgravity.

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