Researchers at UC San Diego School of Medicine and Institute of Engineering are using 3D technology to print spinal cords.
Five things to know:
1. To test its effect on treating spinal cord injuries, the researchers are implanting the scaffolding, which is loaded with neural stem cells, into rats with severe spinal cord injuries.
2. The 3D-printed implants are designed to promote nerve growth across spinal cord injuries to restore connections and lost function.
3. Researchers found in the rat models that the 3D-printed scaffolds supported tissue regrowth, stem cell survival and expansion of neural stem cell axons out of the scaffolding and in the host spinal cord.
4. The 3D printing technology also allows the researchers to create dozens of 2-millimeter sized implants in seconds. Researchers noted that to print one implant takes 1.6 seconds.
5. Researchers did not stop at timing the length of printing rat-sized spinal cords. To print human-sized spinal cords, 4-centimeter sized implants, took researchers 10 minutes.