In America, at least 17 people a day more waiting for an organ transplant But instead of waiting for a donor to die, what if one day we could grow our organs?
Last week, six years later NASA has announced the Vascular Tissue Challenge, a competition designed to accelerate research that could one day lead to artificial organs, the agency has named two winning teams. The challenge required the teams to create a thick, vascularized human organ tissue that could survive for 30 days.
The two teams, named Winston and WFIRM, both from the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine, used various 3D printing techniques to create laboratory-grown liver tissues that would meet all of NASA’s needs and maintain its function.
“We did two different approaches because when you look at the tissues and the vascularity, you look at the body doing two main things,” he says. Anthony Atala, team leader for WFIRM and director of the institute.
The two approaches differ in the way they vascularize – how blood vessels form in the body -. One used tubular structures and the other spongy tissue structures to help supply nutrients to the cells and remove waste. According to Atala, the challenge represented a distinctive sign for bioengineering because the liver, the largest internal organ in the body, is one of the most complex tissues to replicate because of the high number of functions it performs.
“When the competition came out six years ago, we knew we were trying to solve this problem on our own,” says Atala.
Along with advancing the field of regenerative medicine and making it easier to create artificial organs for men in need of transplants, the project could one day help astronauts on future missions into deep space.
The concept of tissue engineering has existed for more than 20 years, he says Laura Niklason, professor of anesthesia and biomedical engineering at Yale, but the growing interest in space-based experimentation is beginning to shift the field. “As the world watches private and commercial space travel now, low-gravity biological impacts will become increasingly important, and this is a great tool to help understand that.”
But winning teams must always overcome one of the biggest obstacles in tissue engineering: “Getting things to survive and maintain their function for an extended period of time is really challenging,” he says. Andrea O’Connor, head of biomedical engineering at the University of Melbourne, who calls this project, and others as ambitious.
With a prize pool of $ 300,000, the first-place team – Winston – will soon have the opportunity to send their research to the International Space Station, where the search for similar organs is already underway.
In 2019, astronaut Christina Koch has activated the BioFabrication Fund (BFF), which was created by the aerospace research society of Greenville, Indiana. Techshot for printing organic fabrics in microgravity.