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At Last! The Fifth Element is Here!! February 15, 2016

Posted by geoff in News.

Fans of Fifth Element have no trouble recalling the machine that reconstructs Leeloo from a single live cell (though the thermal bandages are probably even more memorable). Well, less than 20 years later, it looks like that technology is being born:

Researchers at Wake Forest University in North Carolina say they have created a 3D printer that can produce organs, tissues, and bones that could theoretically be implanted into living humans. The group’s work was published in the scientific journal Nature Biotechnology today.

According to the paper, the researchers’ printer acts much like most 3D printers do, using a computer-controlled nozzle to extrude layers of materials in a very precise pattern. The layers eventually harden to produce whatever you’re trying to print. But unlike with most printers, which put down layers of molten plastic or metal, Wake Forest’s printer lays down what are called hydrogels—water-based solutions containing human cells. The university’s printer has multiple nozzles, some extruding hydrogels, others biodegradable materials that are used to give the tissue it’s printing structure and strength. When the supporting materials dissolve and tissue finishes incubating in the machine, it could be potentially implanted into a person.

The new millenium is really starting to rock.


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