3-D printed organs aid vaccine testing
The team is constructing miniature lungs and colons — two organs particularly affected by the coronavirus — then sending them overnight for testing at a biosafety lab at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va. While they initially created some of the organoids by hand using a pipette, they are beginning to print these at scale for research.
The process of constructing human tissue this way is a form of bioprinting. While its use in humans is years away, researchers are honing the methods to test drugs and, eventually, to create skin and full-size organs for transplanting. Researchers are making strides in printing skin, critical for burn victims; managing diseases like diabetes in which wound healing is difficult; and for the testing of cosmetics without harming animals.“The 3-D models can circumvent animal testing and make the pathway stronger from the lab to the clinic,” said Akhilesh Gaharwar, who directs a cross-disciplinary lab in the biomedical engineering department at Texas A&M University that focuses on bioprinting and other approaches to regenerative medicine.