New 3-D Printer Creates Proto-Synthetic Tissues

Schematic of lipid bilayer in cell membranes. Water-compatible heads point out; hydrophobic strands are protected on the inside. (Photo Credit: mchelen via Compfight cc  )
Schematic of the chemical structure of the lipid bilayer in mammalian cell membranes. Water-compatible heads point out; hydrophobic strands are protected on the inside. (Photo Credit: mchelen via Compfight cc )

3-D printing in the hands of forward-thinking scientists could offer a route to material resembling human tissues, material that mimics the basic structure of our cell membranes and that conceivably could be engineered to replace tissues in our bodies or to deliver drugs.

A new report in the journal Science, by researchers from the University of Oxford, describes using a custom 3-D printer to lay down a network of water droplets that are surrounded by a lipid coating. The water + lipid forms a double, or bi-, layer, and so similar in that regard to the hydrophilic/hydrophobic bilayer in human cell membranes.

To learn the details about this breakthrough in 3-D printing your body, click through to the full article at the Los Angeles Times.

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Kay works with engineers, scientists, and programmers as a writer and editor, which she prefers over working with muggles. When sufficiently caffeinated, she geeks out over words, communication, biology, needlework, and recreational sports. And, of course, chocolate. Her children _may_ have been exposed to D&D at a too-young age, but they continue to play happily to this day.