Sunday 18 August 2019

Body building: Creation of see-through organs could lead to 3D transplant prints

Science: Dr Ali Erturk examines a transparent mouse produced by the new process PHOTO: Michael Dalder/REUTERS
Science: Dr Ali Erturk examines a transparent mouse produced by the new process PHOTO: Michael Dalder/REUTERS

Sarah Knapton

Transparent organs for humans have been created by scientists using a new technique which reveals the underlying structure of tissue.

Scientists led by Dr Ali Erturk at Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich developed a process which uses organic solvents to strip away fats and pigments but preserves the structure of the cells beneath.

The new technology allows body parts from humans and animals to be scanned by lasers under a microscope to capture the entire structure, including all the intricate blood vessels and every single cell in its specific location.

They hope it will pave the way to the printing of 3D organs, called bioprinting, for transplants.

While 3D printing is already used widely to produce spare parts for industry, Dr Erturk said the development marked a step forward for its use in the medical field.

Until now, 3D-printed organs lacked detailed cellular structures because they were based on images from computer tomography or MRI machines, he said.

"We can see where every single cell is located in transparent human organs. And then we can actually replicate exactly the same, using 3D bioprinting technology to make a real functional organ," he said.

"Therefore, I believe we are much closer to a real human organ for the first time now."

Dr Erturk's team plans to start by creating a bioprinted pancreas over the next two to three years and also hopes to develop a kidney.

The researchers will first test to see whether animals can survive with the bioprinted organs and could start clinical trials within a decade, he said.

Irish Independent

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