Threads Made of Stem Cells

The infrastructure technologies required for the application of rapid prototyping to tissue engineering - "printing out" entire organs to order - continue to advance: "A new trick invented by a team of [scientists] has greatly improved the chances for creating artificial tissue - they can weave threads made of stem cells into almost any shape. Ultimately this could lead to artificial transplants, with the resulting synthetic tissue able to adapt to many different purposes. ... Stem cell research is centered around two things--[controlling cellular differentiation] and determining how to structure networks of the cells to create large-scale artificial tissue. There are a number of techniques for doing this, including ink-jet-like printing, but the new method can create 'printed' line-based structures of embryonic stem cells for the very first time. And interestingly it's a technique borrowed from the paint industry: electrospraying. Instead of directing a fluid through a nozzle simply using the force from compressed gas, electrospraying charges the fluid and accelerates it between the nozzle electrode and a distant 'target' electrode--among other things, this allows for fine control of the spraying process."



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