Cell stacking technology creates living human organs

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[Image from Igus]

Research engineers at Brown University have figured out a way to build tiny versions of human organs one micro-level at a time, and Igus technology helped enable the innovation.

Using cells that are shaped as microscopic honeycomb-like patterns, Jeffrey Morgan, a professor at the university, created a method that consists of precisely stacking molded cells and perfusing them with liquid nutrients. The cells bonded and formed cellular structures that are the same as the beginnings of human organs.

The device, deemed BioP3, houses the cellular structures during their building process. The process is semi-automatic and done using an Xbox video game controller. The molded cells and fluid are suctioned by a gripping device that is connected to a syringe pump and is moved to a platform that is used as a microscope stage. The fluid and molded cells get pushed out of the nozzle and the cells are added to the stack below.

The device has so far has created tissues of about 150 million cells, which is fraction of a full human liver.

Research engineer John Murphy used a number of Igus’ stainless drylin linear slide tables that use Igus’ self-lubricating iglide T500 bearing liners to get the precision needed to make tiny versions of human organs. The ability to not use external grease or oil in drylin systems allows for the systems to run hygienically and withstand harsh autoclaving processes that happen with sterilization. They also used resilient plastic e-chain cable carriers to guide and protect cables, hoses and more in the multi-axis gantry.

The gantry system uses four stainless steals slide tables for a single-build BioP3. Murphy hopes to be able to automate the system soon with a multi-build plan. He also hopes that the method for creating tissue will create full organs for transplant patients and small-scale models that could be used for testing chemicals and eliminate the need for animal models.

(Learn from some of the medical device industry’s top executives and experts at DeviceTalks Boston on Oct. 2.)

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