Brazilian scientist from the Human Genome and Stem Cell Research Center (HUG-CELL) University of São Paulo (USP) have 3D bioprinted functional mini-Livers. These livers are made from human blood cells and are capable of replicating normal liver functions like producing vital proteins, storing vitamins, and secreting bile. Full size organs are is still years away, but this is a vital step toward that goal.
“More stages have yet to be achieved until we obtain a complete organ, but we’re on the right track to highly promising results,” said Mayana Zatz, director of HUG-CELL and last author of the article published in Biofabrication. Continuing “In the very near future, instead of waiting for an organ transplant, it may be possible to take cells from the patient and reprogram them to make a new liver in the laboratory. Another important advantage is zero probability of rejection, given that the cells come from the patient.”
The HUG-CELL team used groups of Human-induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS) in the CELLINK INKREDIBLE+ 3D bioprinter to produce the mini-liver.
Ernesto Goulart, a postdoctoral fellow in USP’s Institute of Biosciences and first author of the article, stated, “Instead of printing individualized cells, we developed a method of grouping them before printing. These ‘clumps’ of cells, or spheroids, are what constitute the tissue and maintain its functionality much longer. We started the differentiation process with the cells already grouped together. They were cultured in agitation, and groups formed spontaneously.”
Overall the time it took to 3D bioprint the mini-liver an go through maturation stages were it developed hepatocytes, vascular cells, and mesenchymal cells was 90 days.
Goulart added, “Our spheroids worked much better than those obtained from single-cell dispersion. As expected, during maturation, the markers of hepatic function were not reduced. We did it on a small scale, but with investment and interest, it can easily be scaled up.”
Vialva, Tia, et al. “Brazilian Scientists 3D Bioprint Functional Mini-Livers.” 3D Printing Industry, 19 Dec. 2019, 3dprintingindustry.com/news/brazilian-scientists-3d-bioprint-functional-mini-livers-166594/.