from Yahoo Tech
Do you hear what I hear? Because what I hear is the whizzing sound of medical progress at the hands of some pretty incredible 3D-printing breakthroughs. On Monday, researchers from the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine detailed how they managed to create a 3D bioprinter that is precise enough to actually manufacture replacement tissue capable of being used in transplant surgery. Body parts printed thus far include a jaw bone, muscle tissue, and cartilage structures, and perhaps most impressive of all, an incredibly accurate human ear.
A decade in the making, the findings from a team led by Professor Anthony Atala were published today in Nature Biotechnology, and represent an incredible step forward in the idea of a “plug and play” human being. According to the Wake Forest team, the bioprinter functions much as a “traditional” 3D printer does, making use of additive manufacturing techniques in order to add materials layer by layer, ultimately creating a complex structure. But unlike most 3D printers that use plastics, resins, metals (and sometimes, even ceramics), these bioprinters use very different materials.