New technology for bioprinting mini-buds

Scientists from Australia have presented a method for printing miniature buds. In structure, they resemble ordinary organs. It is possible to determine which substances can lead to complications in the human body.

Researchers have used new technology to bioprint human miniature kidneys. They hope that their method will help treat kidney failure, and the product will, in the future, become a replacement for organs that are grown in laboratory conditions.

In a study by the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute in Melbourne, Australia, and the biotechnology company Organovo, a team of researchers confirmed that miniature kidneys could be used to test which substances are causing complications and kidney failure. Scientists have also shown that 3D bioprinting of cells can produce chunks of kidney tissue large enough for transplant.

The process is similar to squeezing toothpaste out of a tube — scientists print the tissue gradually using a special blend of stem cells squeezed through a computer-controlled pipette. This is how researchers gradually get living tissue.

Professor Melissa Little, one of the leading kidney researchers, first started growing organelles in 2015. But the new bioprinting method is faster, more reliable, and allows for scalability. Now with 3D printing, you can create about 200 mini-buds in 10 minutes without sacrificing quality.

The organs can come in different sizes – they are compared to a grain of rice or a human fingernail – but mini-buds resemble normal-sized organs. In them, you can see tiny tubes and blood vessels that form the filtering structures of the organ – nephrons.

With mini-organs’ help, the team hopes to screen drugs to find new treatments for kidney disease and test if a new drug can damage the kidney.

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