(USA)

Scientists have made a breakthrough which could lead to the development of fully functioning artificial organs.

By 3D printing a lifelike, functional blood vessel network, nanoengineers based at the University of California San Diego have overcome one the biggest obstacles in advancing tissue engineering. That is to create networks of blood vessels equipped to transport blood, nutrients, waste and other biological materials – and do so safely when implanted inside the body.

Nanoengineering Professor Shaochen Chen, who led the research, said: “Almost all tissues and organs need blood vessels to survive and work properly. This is a big bottleneck in making organ transplants, which are in high demand but in short supply. 3D bioprinting organs can help bridge this gap, and our lab has taken a big step toward that goal.”

While the team’s ultimate goal is to move their work to clinical trials, Chen confirmed it will “take at least several years before we reach that goal”.