Swiss researchers have harnessed 3D printing to produce cellular material in process called bioprinting. (SRF/swissinfo.ch)
Researchers at the federal technology institute ETH Zurich have developed a way of producing body parts containing cartilage, with the help of a 3D printer.
One of the first practical applications of this method is reconstructive surgery. Damaged body parts, like a nose or an ear, can be rebuilt in a computer 3D model. Cartilage cells are thenremoved through a biopsy. In the laboratory these cells are cultivated and mixed with a biopolymer which is used as a shaping mould. From this body parts can then be shaped with a 3D printer. The reconstructed body part is then ready to be transplanted into the body.
At Zurich’s University of Applied Sciences on the other hand, research is focusing on using bioprinting to produce human skin. The skin flakes being produced are not suitable for transplants but could be used by cosmetic companies to test their products on live tissues without injuring animals.