PARIS-Neuroscientists on Tuesday said they had used an inkjet printer to print cells from the eye, making a practical step in the quest to grow replenishment tissue for damaged or diseased organs. Researchers at England’s University of Cambridge extracted two types of cells from rat retinas and sent them through a printer nozzle to see if they survived.
The cells remained healthy after being “printed,” retaining their ability to survive and grow in culture, they reported in the British journal Biofabrication. Three-dimensional printing is one of the new frontiers in engineering. In that field, liquid or powdered polymers are substituted for ink. Sprayed in layers, the plastic forms a 3-D shape — a boon for designers or exporters, for example, who want to show off a model of their product. But biotechnologists are also interested in printing, given the potential it offers for building artificial tissue in layers.
This is the first time that the technology has been used to successfully print mature cells from the central nervous system, the scientists said. They cautioned, however, that much work lay ahead. The co-authors, Keith Martin and Barbara Lorber of the university’s John van Geest Centre for Brain Repair, said the hope was one day to build retinal tissue for people suffering from degenerative diseases of the eye.