Cells grown under laboratory conditions has been an achievable technology developed a few decades ago. However, researchers are now looking at innovative ways to improve the process of growing new cells that can speed up the process of drug testing.
Researchers, from the Heriot-Watt University, have developed a new valve-based technique that can print embryonic cell cultures using 3D bioprinters. Led by Dr. Will Shu, he and his colleagues from the Biomedical Microengineering group pioneered 3D bioprinting of stem cells that have the ability to replicate as well as differentiate into virtually any kind of cell types.
To create the specialized 3D bioprinter, Dr. Shu and his team collaborated with stem cell company Roslin Cellab. It is very exciting to take note that this is the first time that the stem cells have been printed out of a 3D bioprinter. With this research, scientists will be able to create accurate human tissue models that are necessary for in vitro drug development and toxicity testing.
Dr. Shu also added that majority of the drug discoveries that recently target human diseases, are tested on laboratory animals—and this usually does not yield the same results or reactions to humans. Thus, it definitely makes sense to utilize human tissues in drug testing.
However, aside from drug testing, there are also many viable applications to the 3D printed cells. It eliminates the need for organ donation and patients do no need to worry about transplant rejection because doctors can print organs out of the patient’s own stem cells.