Scientists at the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine in Winston Salem, North Carolina are using 3D printing technology to produce substrates to grow human cells and create realistic facial features, including ears and noses.
The university is experimenting with many ways to create organs for human transplants, from making changes to animal organs to growing whole organs from a patient’s own cells.
Leading researcher Dr. Anthony Atala has pioneered new technology. His innovation lab at Wake Forest uses a 3D printer to create miniature kidney prototypes, some of which are less than half dollar bills, and other structures for research.
Instead of ink, the printer releases a gel-like biodegradable substance as a substrate and then layer by layer a mixture of cells to make a kidney. Atala believes that it will take years before such organs can be transplanted to patients.