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3D Printers — Emerging Tech News

August 23rd, 2013

There is little doubt that one technology with a unique potential to revolutionize society — from manufacturing to food production to healthcare — is the 3D printer. One new 3D bioprinting system in the test stages actually “prints” living cells and tissue. All engineering disciplines are poised to reap benefits from 3D printing technology in the foreseeable future.

The 3D Printing of Living Tissue

A San Diego-based 3d printing service, Organovo, developed the NovoGen MMX 3-D Bioprinter, using its embedded software and cell disposition capability to convert clinical tumor specimens into an accurate model of human tissue. The 3D bioprinting system currently produces the living cells and tissue for use in drug research. The goal is to lessen the dependence on lab animals for testing as well as improving the general efficacy of the research process.

Researchers use a cancer patient’s tumors in a laboratory setting to test a variety of drug combinations to see which one works best against the disease. These scientists are also able to analyze the interaction between healthy and cancerous cells in the lab. Currently, sets of bioprinted tissue models are in development for that purpose.

Human Cells as the Printer “Ink”

With the NovoGen MMX, human cells serve as the printer “ink” with a Petri dish providing the “paper” for the bioprinting process. The tissue models act as the printer fonts to continue the analogy. AutoCAD developer, Autodesk assisted Organovo with the tissue modeling technology, by creating specialized CAD programs that help scientists create and modify sophisticated cell models.

Joseph Carroll, Ph.D., an associate director at the Knight Cancer Institute feels they are on the cusp of a breakthrough in the treatment of cancer. “This could be very significant,” Carroll says. “We have never been able to examine this highly complex cellular signaling system in living human tissues before.”

If working on state of the art technology made possible with 3D printing inspires you, talk to the recruiting experts at The Talley Group. One of the leading engineering staffing agencies in the Seattle area, they can help take your career to the next level.

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