The Potential Of University of California’s New 3D Printed Nanotech Blood Vessels
Nanotechnology is rapidly expanding into multiple industries with impressive results. One of the most interesting has to be the medical industry, with surgery and healthcare provision.
Nanotechnology allows developers to create new structures and systems on a microscopic scale to improve options for patients. One area of interest for many researchers is in tissue development.
Bio-engineered tissues help with transplants, surgical procedures, and recovery from injury. Nanotechnology reduces the scale and takes it into new territory. This is what is happening at University of California San Diego, where scientists have new nanotech 3D printed blood vessels.
There are some big issues when creating these artificial blood vessels.
Advancements in this area are welcome for many reasons. At the moment, the problems are numerous. They take a long time to make, and demand is high.
The structures are simplistic and don’t always go far enough to meet user need. Their functionality is minimal and needs improvement. The vessels are at risk of rejection by the host body.
Finally, these 3D printed vessels are expensive to produce. This new system from San Diego aims to break down some of these boundaries, but there are still some issues in place.
Overcoming the Issue of Simplistic Structures:
The aim with this tech is to provide tissues and blood vessel networks that can help with regeneration, skin grafts and other healing processes.
The system 3D prints a series of live endothelial cells into just the right shape for a blood vessel network. This is a pixelated structure in a more higher resolution than previous attempts. These structures are also subtle, fitting in an area of 4×5 millimeters.
The ongoing problem of multi-functionality in these new blood vessels.
One of the biggest issues that are still seen in this nanotechnology development is in the functionality of the vessels.
In an ideal world, they would be able to mimic the work of the real blood vessels in the human body. This means the transportation of blood, nutrients, and waste.
At the moment, these vessels cannot do that much in one go. However, the use of biomaterials and the success of other ventures in this San Diego lab suggests that it could soon be possible.
The Developments in the Issue of Potential Rejection of the Tissues:
The fear with any transplant is that the body will reject the item and fail to connect with it. Without a strong, stable physical integration with the host, these new devices and artificial tissues cannot work. It is a defense mechanism by the body in the presence of a foreign object, but one that can be lethal in some cases.
These nano-engineered structures buck that trend as these biocompatible materials integrate with live tissue and wounds pretty well. This was a recent observation on lab mice. This simple integration allows for the safe passage of blood in that damaged area, improving recoveries.
The next step here is patient-specific tissues with pluripotent stem cells. This would further ensure that patient don’t reject the tissue as the cells would be a match.
Main Issues of Supply and Demand and Ongoing Costs:
One of the prime criticisms of 3D printing is often the speed of the process. Labs can only produce so many vessels in a particular time frame because of the complexity of the structure and the technology available. That production quota is never enough to meet demand.
The positive news here is that the process is gaining speed, and this can only continue as printing technology develops. The new process takes seconds rather than hours, which is a massive step forward.
As the tissues become more beneficial and accessible, more and more will want to use them. As for cost, these biomaterials are inexpensive compared to other options. Lower prices mean higher productions levels and more lives altered.
So what is the future for this 3D printed nanotechnology?
There is still a way to go with this University of California San Diego development. There are those plans to build on functionality with waste disposal and nutrient transfer. There are plans for better integration with stem cells. Then there are those plans for continued work with cheaper biomaterials and faster processes.
Finally, there is the need for clinical studies before anything can be of use on a human. There is still work to do. But, this nano-engineered biomaterial 3D printed blood vessel is undoubtedly a massive breakthrough.