Although cell biologists have managed to take big leaps in growing lab-made tissues, it is still virtually impossible to recreate the complex 3D blood vessel networks. Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania and MIT have found a solution to create networks of delicate blood vessels using an open-source 3D printer and some sugar.
The RepRap 3D printer is able to quickly print a custom template of intricate networks out of a mixture of sucrose, glucose, and dextran. Then, cells suspended in a bio-gel fills the template. Once the sugar dissolves, what’s left is a network of artery-like channels.
Being able to successfully grow vessels in labs can help researchers move a step closer to creating a synthetic liver in the future.