01Sep2019

Amazing Plan To Manufacture Human Organs In Space

Astronauts aboard the International Space Station are conducting some pretty amazing experiments. One of the most amazing ones uses 3D bioprinters to create organ-like structures in space.

NASA astronaut Nick Hague with the BioFabrication Facility (BFF) aboard the International Space Station.

NASA astronaut Nick Hague with the BioFabrication Facility (BFF) aboard the International Space Station.

That’s because printing complex structures inside organs has proven difficult in Earth’s gravity so the idea of printing them in microgravity could be a way to overcome those difficulties.

Researchers here on Earth have been fabricating biological structures, which are identical to natural structures found in the tissues and organs in the human body, using 3D bioprinters. Just like regular 3D printers, 3D bioprinters generate three- dimensional structures layer-by-layer successively. These structures need a support, or scaffolding, in order to form the desired shapes. But under Earth’s gravity, conventional scaffolding can’t support some of the tiniest, most complex structures, such as the capillaries inside human organs.

The microgravity environment on the International Space Station provides a solution to printing these complex organ structures. The minimal gravity environment removes the need for scaffolding structures to support complex tissue shapes.

The Space Station crew is currently testing a BioFabrication Facility(BFF) designed by Techshot to print organ-like tissues in microgravity. They use specialized cassettes that hold the printed tissues for several weeks. This allows the tissues to cohesively form on a cellular level. These tests are one step forward toward manufacturing human organs in space with 3D bioprinting.

Over time, the BioFabrication Facility could become a part of a larger system capable of manufacturing whole, fully functioning human organs, which has been a dream of scientists and doctors around the globe. Source; Forbes

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