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Endothelial Cells  (Source: Image via
Japanese researchers have devised a way to print new blood vessels from an ink jet printer

Doctors performing artery bypass surgery replace clogged arteries with veins from the inner thigh of the same patient.  This vein, the great saphenous vein, is the longest in the human body and can easily be removed if a patient needs a bypass.

However, this approach has its limitations.  The patient must have good collateral blood flow and the very long incision can run nearly the entire length of the leg. Ask a few post operation bypass patients and many of them will tell you that the pain from the removal of the great saphenous is often worse than the heart surgery itself.

Researchers from Tokyo Medical and Dental University and Kanagawa Academy of Science and Technology have some promising research that could make the removal of the great saphenous vein unnecessary in future coronary artery bypass operations.

The technology they are developing allows them to print new blood vessels and capillaries from an ink jet printer. The ink used in the technology is made from artificial cells and medical gel in a solution of calcium chloride. This ink solidifies into a tube with a lining of endothelial cells and an outer case of smooth muscle cells.

The technology isn’t mature enough yet to replace the veins from a patients own body with researchers only being able to create a prototype vessel with an inner diameter of 1 mm and a length of 1 cm. The prototype isn’t strong enough to support blood flow yet either. says that once the technology is more mature and robust there is no reason why scientists can’t build up artificial organs from layered, printed sheets using the technology.

The process used in this research is very similar to the research being carried out to help combat diseases like Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy and other autoimmune disease by Carnegie Melon’s Institute for Complex engineering Systems and the Carnegie Mellon Robotics Institute.

This research was aimed at using ink-jet printing technology to print out muscle and bone cells and uses Stem cells as a component of their ink. The printer developed in the Carnegie Mellon research deposited and immobilized growth factors in virtually any design, pattern or concentration. The patterns were laid down on extracellular matrix-coated slides. The slides were topped with muscle-derived stem cells and directed differentiate into different pathways to make bone or muscle.

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By omnicronx on 8/30/2007 7:10:51 PM , Rating: 2
Arteries are great, but i could really go for an inkject thin crust pizza right now..

RE: great!
By shabby on 8/30/2007 8:28:11 PM , Rating: 2
Dont forget you'll need to purchase additional cartridges if you want to print all of your fav toppings...

RE: great!
By CyborgTMT on 8/30/2007 11:57:52 PM , Rating: 3
And don't let HP in on the deal or you'll have a different printer for each size of pizza. And of course each printer will require it's own unique Pepperoni cartridge so if you upgrade to a large you will have to re-buy all the toppings. The toppings will be over-priced and will run out after printing 3 slices of the pizza.

Oh, BTW even though it's the most popular topping, Best Buy will always be out of stock when you go to purchase it.

RE: great!
By BladeVenom on 8/31/2007 7:37:10 AM , Rating: 3
With what printer cartridges cost that will be a $1,000 pizza.

RE: great!
By Googer on 8/31/2007 7:41:34 AM , Rating: 2
mmm... LIVER!

RE: great!
By Fluppeteer on 8/31/2007 9:44:34 AM , Rating: 2
Would I be spoiling the fun if I mentioned that people have tried using soft cheese as a medium in home-made 3D printers? It'll still only taste of cheese (well, possibly a little WD-40 seasoning), but presentation is everything.

Off topic slightly, I've noticed in (pseudo-)medical shows surgeons practising on physical mock-ups of the patient. I've no idea whether this technology was made up for the show, but if it's real (and I could imagine the combination of a 3D printer, a detailed CT/MRI, and a huge budget might make is possible for exceptional surgeries - separating conjoined twins, in the scene which provoked the thought), then cool - and this article is just the next step. Anyone know whether it *is* real? (If not, does this forum count as prior art for anyone who tries to patent the process?)

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