U of Minnesota 3D-prints stem cells for spinal cord repair: 5 things to know

Mackenzie Garrity -   Print  |

Minneapolis-based University of Minnesota researchers used 3D-printing technology to print stem cell-infused scaffolds that may be implanted in spinal cords to alleviate nerve damage, the StarTribune reports.

Here are five things to know:

1. With a background in printing plastic implants containing live cells, the research team used a printing approach that enabled 75 percent of the neural progenitor cells to survive the process.

2. The breakthrough was published in Advanced Functional Materials. It shows how a soft rubbery scaffold can be printed in layers with hydrogel, an ink that coats and preserves the stem cells. The cells must be printed with something around them to stay alive, According to study co-author Michael McAlpine, PhD.

3. Researchers still anticipate the use of 3D printing in regenerative medicine for human patients to be years away. These new scaffolds will first need to be tested in animals to determine the success of repairing nerve damage.

4. University of Minnesota has always been ahead of the curve. Three years ago, University of Minnesota engineers were the first to successfully print scaffolds that could be implanted in damaged peripheral nerves.

5. There are close to 17,000 spinal cord injuries in the U.S. annually. As this technology evolves, it may significantly impact restored function in the spine after spinal cord injury, according to University of Minnesota researchers.

More articles on biologics:
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UC San Diego scientists derive spinal cord stem cells: 4 insights

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