Researchers 3-D print lifelike artificial organ models

A team of researchers led by the University of Minnesota has 3D printed lifelike artificial organ models that mimic the exact anatomical structure, mechanical properties, and look and feel of real organs. These patient-specific organ models, which include integrated soft sensors, can be used for practice surgeries to improve surgical outcomes in thousands of patients worldwide.

The research was published today in the journal Advanced Materials Technologies. The researchers are submitting a patent on this technology.

"We are developing next-generation organ models for pre-operative practice. The organ models we are 3D printing are almost a perfect replica in terms of the look and feel of an individual's organ, using our custom-built 3D printers," said lead researcher Michael McAlpine, an associate professor of mechanical engineering in the University of Minnesota's College of Science and Engineering and a 2017 recipient of the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE).

"We think these organ models could be 'game-changers' for helping surgeons better plan and practice for surgery. We hope this will save lives by reducing medical errors during surgery," McAlpine added.

McAlpine said his team was originally contacted by Dr. Robert Sweet, a urologist at the University of Washington who previously worked at the University of Minnesota. Sweet was looking for more accurate 3D printed models of the prostate to practice surgeries.

Currently, most 3D printed organ models are made using hard plastics or rubbers. This limits their application for accurate prediction and replication of the organ's physical behavior during surgery. There are significant differences in the way these organs look and feel compared to their biological counterparts. They can be too hard to cut or suture. They also lack an ability to provide quantitative feedback.

In this study, the research team took MRI scans and tissue samples from three patients' prostates. Researchers tested the tissue and developed customized silicone-based inks that can be "tuned" to precisely match the mechanical properties of each patient's prostate tissue. These unique inks were used in a custom-built 3D printer by researchers at the University of Minnesota. The researchers then attached soft, 3D printed sensors to the organ models and observed the reaction of the model prostates during compression tests and the application of various surgical tools.

"The sensors could give surgeons real-time feedback on how much force they can use during surgery without damaging the tissue," said Kaiyan Qiu, a University of Minnesota mechanical engineering postdoctoral researcher and lead author of the paper. "This could change how surgeons think about personalized medicine and pre-operative practice."

In the future, researchers hope to use this new method to 3D print lifelike models of more complicated organs, using multiple inks. For instance, if the organ has a tumor or deformity, the surgeons would be able to see that in a patient-specific model and test various strategies for removing tumors or correcting complications. They also hope to someday explore applications beyond surgical practice.

"If we could replicate the function of these tissues and organs, we might someday even be able to create 'bionic organs' for transplants," McAlpine said. "I call this the 'Human X' project. It sounds a bit like science fiction, but if these synthetic organs look, feel, and act like real tissue or organs, we don't see why we couldn't 3D print them on demand to replace real organs."

Kaiyan Qiu, Zichen Zhao, Ghazaleh Haghiashtiani, Shuang-Zhuang Guo, Mingyu He, Ruitao Su, Zhijie Zhu, Didarul B Bhuiyan, Paari Murugan, Fanben Meng, Sung Hyun Park, Chih-Chang Chu, Brenda M Ogle, Daniel A Saltzman, Badrinath R Konety, Robert M Sweet, Michael C McAlpine.
3D Printed Organ Models with Physical Properties of Tissue and Integrated Sensors.
Adv. Mater. Technol. 2365-709X. doi: 10.1002/admt.201700235.

Most Popular Now

FDA grants priority review to Roche's cancer immun…

Roche (SIX: RO, ROG; OTCQX: RHHBY) announced that the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has accepted the company's supplemental Biologics License Application (sBLA) a...

Kymriah® (tisagenlecleucel), first-in-class CAR-T …

Novartis today announced the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved Kymriah® (tisagenlecleucel) suspension for intravenous infusion for its second indication ...

Daily aspirin linked to higher risk in men

Men who take once-daily aspirin have nearly double the risk of melanoma compared to men who are not exposed to daily aspirin, reports a new Northwestern Medicine study. W...

New leads on treating dementia and Alzheimer's

A new research study by scientists in Australia and the US provides an explanation for why clinical trials of drugs reducing proteins in the brain that were thought to ca...

Roche reports a strong start in 2018

Roche (SIX: RO, ROG; OTCQX: RHHBY) has announced that in the first three months of 2018, Group sales rose 6% to CHF 13.6 billion. Sales in the Pharmaceuticals Division in...

To treat pain, you need to treat the patient

People in chronic pain are some of the most difficult patients to treat. They have complex circumstances that medicine can't always remedy. Pain can be amplified, by depr...

Novo Nordisk participates in new research project …

Within the newly started European research project Hypo-RESOLVE, 23 leading international players from academia, industry and civil society have joined forces to find bet...

Chemical octopus catches sneaky cancer clues, trac…

Cancer drops sparse chemical hints of its presence early on, but unfortunately, many of them are in a class of biochemicals that could not be detected thoroughly, until n...

Alcon Cares Project 100 commits to reducing catara…

Alcon, the global leader in eye care and a division of Novartis, has announced Alcon Cares Project 100, which aims to reduce cataract blindness by providing equipment to ...

FDA approves novel preventive treatment for migrai…

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today approved Aimovig (erenumab-aooe) for the preventive treatment of migraine in adults. The treatment is given by once-monthly se...

First clues to the causes of multiple sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis, which affects 1 in 1,000 people, is frequently characterised by relapses associated with variable functional impairments including among others vision...

Doctors in US and Canada launch sweeping pharmaceu…

The skyrocketing cost of prescription drugs is one of the biggest concerns for American voters. However, in his proposal last Friday, President Donald Trump failed to off...