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3-D Printed Liver

Larry H. Bernstein, MD, FCAP, Curator

LPBI

 

This is an interesting topic.  We already have liver transplantation.  When the procedure was introduced, a liver transplant could deplete the blood supply in a small state.  Kidney transplantation did not pose that problem, and we are now much beyond classic dialysis with intraperitoneal dialysis at home on a daily basis.   Liver transplantation raises issues about who receives the benefit.  Alcoholism is self destructive, but undoubtedly they are among the recipients.  Hepatocarcinoma is uncommon, and it has a poor prognosis.  Patients who have a transthyretin gene mutant associated with neurodegeneration who are likely to have a family history descending from Portugal, Sweden, Brazil, and a locality in Japan are receiving liver transplants.  The 3-D bioprint model would clearly apply. It becomes of great interest in those who have received blood transfusions or have become infected with HCV.

 

3D Printed Liver Models Save Lives at Cleveland Clinic

Currently, 3D printing models of patients’ organs is becoming a pretty common and easy practice that is being used in an increasing variety of surgeries. At the time, however, it was still very experimental and required a lot of testing.

“We went through a process for every patient who underwent liver surgery where we resected a portion of the liver, took it out, [and] prior to surgery, we prepared a 3D printed version of it,” said Dr. Zein

Dr. Zein believes that the 2012 trials resulted in the first-ever 3D printed liver. At that time, it took six weeks to print, which seems incredible when you consider how fast 3D printers are today, only three years later. Now, the hospital can print a replica liver in less than 48 hours. As 3D printing technology has improved, so have the models the hospital is able to print. The early models were yellowish and hazy, but now they are as clear as glass, enabling doctors to easily see blood vessels and bile ducts. In 2014, the hospital was using the models regularly during surgeries, and they’ve continued to improve. Different components can be printed individually, removed from the model for closer examination, and then replaced within the larger organ model using a series of magnets. At this point, Zein has printed over 20 liver models.

Having perfected the method of 3D liver modeling, the clinic was able to offer hope to a patient with a liver tumor who had already been turned down by other hospitals. Dr. Zein is thrilled with the possibilities that 3D printing offers for saving lives that could not have been saved before.

“My career has been as a clinical investigator so medical research and investigation is part of my life and it’s probably the most exciting part of my life,” he said. “So I’m very proud of what we did. What comes out of it, in the end, I’m not sure, but I have a feeling that there will be a role for these technologies, 3D printing, in complex surgeries.”

 

Researchers 3D Print Artificial Liver-like Device to Detoxify The Blood

Nanoengineers at the University of California, San Diego have been taking a different approach to creating a liver, an artificial one. They have been successful in creating a device which functions in a similar manner as the human organ, but is designed to be used outside the body, sort of like dialysis.

Recently engineers have used nanoparticles, tiny particles which are between 1 and 100 nanometers in size, to neutralize pore-forming toxins in the blood. These toxins can either be released by bacteria during an infection, or by insect or snake venom after a bite or sting. The toxins are released into the bloodstream, causing illness, or even death by destroying cells.  They do this by basically poking holes in the cell membranes. The method developed to neutralize the toxins has been heralded as a success, however there is a major risk of secondary poisoning, which can come about when the nanoparticles enter the liver and accumulate.

liver-2

http://3dprint.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/liver-2.jpg

 

A team of researchers, led by nanoengineering professor Shaochen Chen, have come up with a solution. Their solution is a matrix, which they 3D print out of a hydrogel material. This matrix is used to house the nanoparticles, and neutralize any pore-forming toxins. This mimicks the functions of the human liver.

“The concept of using 3D printing to encapsulate functional nanoparticles in a biocompatible hydrogel is novel,” said Chen. “This will inspire many new designs for detoxification techniques since 3D printing allows user-specific or site-specific manufacturing of highly functional products.”

The bioprinting technology used by Chen and his team is called, dynamic optical projection stereolithography. Similar to the stereolithography technology used within the resin based 3D printer you may have at home, Chen’s printers use a liquid solution which contains cells as well as a photosensitive biopolymer. It then directs light towards the solution, which solidifies. Layer by layer, the printer gradually builds up the material until they have a finished structure. Chen has been developing this technology thanks to a grant of $1.5 million from the National Institute of Health.  Ultimately this technology could be used in a variety of important applications, producing various medical implants, devices, and human tissues.  Discuss this story at the forum thread at 3DPB.com related to Chen’s 3D printed liver-like device.

 

Professor Shaochen Chen

Professor Shaochen Chen

 

 

 

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