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

A step closer to cancer precision medicine

Researchers from the Faculty of Medicine and the Institute for Molecular Medicine (FIMM) at the University of Helsinki have developed a computational model, Combined Esse...

Artificial Intelligence algorithm can learn the la…

Artificial Intelligence can be used to predict molecular wave functions and the electronic properties of molecules. This innovative AI method developed by a team of resea...

Amgen completes acquisition of Otezla® (apremilast…

Amgen (NASDAQ:AMGN) today announced the successful completion of its acquisition of worldwide rights to Otezla® (apremilast), the only oral, non-biologic treatment for mo...

Bristol-Myers Squibb completes acquisition of Celg…

Bristol-Myers Squibb Company (NYSE:BMY) has completed its acquisition of Celgene Corporation (NASDAQ:CELG) following the receipt of regulatory approval from all governmen...

Amgen and the Duke Clinical Research Institute ann…

Amgen (NASDAQ:AMGN) in collaboration with the Duke Clinical Research Institute (DCRI) announced plans to initiate the Cardiovascular Multi-dimensional Observational Inves...

Statins not associated with memory or cognition de…

Given consumer concern that statins may be associated with memory or cognitive decline, a new study published today in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology m...

Novartis announces new strategy to provide innovat…

Novartis announced a new strategy to broaden patient reach and availability of its portfolio of medicines in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), which is home to the largest unders...

Bayer and Dewpoint Therapeutics partner to researc…

Bayer and Dewpoint Therapeutics, a biotechnology company with sites in Boston and Dresden, Germany, today announced an option, research and license agreement worth up to ...

New advances in the treatment of advanced lung can…

The University of Barcelona (UB) and Hospital Clínic de Barcelona collaborate with Boehringer Ingelheim Inc. to improve the efficiency of nintedanib, an antiangiogenic an...

Bristol-Myers Squibb and Pfizer announce randomize…

The Bristol-Myers Squibb-Pfizer Alliance today announced the initiation of a new randomized, controlled study, GUARD-AF (ReducinG stroke by screening for UndiAgnosed atRi...

A protein tag to study the immune system

Researchers from VIB-UGent Center for Medical Biotechnology, University of Iowa (USA) and other collaborators, developed a novel approach to better understand a basic def...

FDA grants priority review to Roche’s risdiplam fo…

Roche (SIX: RO, ROG; OTCQX: RHHBY) announced that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has accepted the New Drug Application (NDA) and granted Priority Review for ...