Lifesaving Printers
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Conventional printer You can now go into a store and buy a 3D printer to print objects such as tools or camera parts. Soon, 3D printers may not only change how we live but perhaps whether we live as well.

Believe it or not, researchers have now printed miniature kidneys, spinal discs, and even human livers. These livers are only half a millimeter thick and four millimeters long.

The technology is pretty amazing. The printer uses liver cells called hepatocytes and stellate cells, printing twenty layers of them in precise spatial patterns that resemble the human liver.

Hepatocytes are the most prevalent type of liver cell, and stellate cells are vital in liver regeneration.

The liver experiment didn’t use an artificial scaffold so it more closely resembles the natural organ. Researchers also included cells that line blood vessels to create a meshwork of small channels to provide oxygen and nutrients to extend the life of the liver.

The mini liver produced albumin, which is a protein that helps move small molecules through the blood, such as bilirubin, progesterone, and medications. It also synthesized cholesterol and produced key detoxifying enzymes called cytochrome P450s that metabolize drugs and toxins to protect the body.

These mini livers appear to be working like the real things. Researchers aim to print a full-size liver, but a major challenge is to print larger branched networks of blood vessels to deliver nutrients to the liver.

Overcoming this obstacle would save many lives. More than 16,000 Americans are waiting for a liver transplant.

Imagine one day having 3D printers print any organ a person needs to replace a failing one!