[L’industrie c’est fou] This Lego 3D printer reproduces human tissue

Chris Thomas, Oliver Castell and Sion Coulman have lost none of their childlike souls. Fans of Lego, these researchers from the University of Cardiff (United Kingdom) did not embark, like everyone else, on the construction of the school of Hogwarts, a Bugatti Chiron or the Eiffel Tower, but in that of a 3D printer capable of reproducing human tissue. A salutary approach because if the latter are essential to advance biomedical research, they prove to be less and less accessible when they come from organ donations or samples taken during surgical operations.


“If 3D bio-printing offers hope for the development of these samples, its cost may be prohibitive”, explain the scientists to justify the use of the famous colored bricks. The development of their tool only cost them £500 (567 euros) whereas a conventional 3D bio-printer can cost tens or even hundreds of thousands of pounds sterling. “Few research teams, including ours, can extend their budget to cover this type of expense”, they lament before adding: “Our article [publié dans la revue Advanced Materials Technologies, ndlr] details each element of the construction […] so that it can be easily replicated in any lab, anywhere in the world.” Legos also have the advantage of being manufactured with great precision, being versatile and available worldwide.

Observe the development of skin diseases

In detail, the trio used Lego Mindstorms, a range of Lego resulting from a partnership between the Danish company and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology aimed at introducing robotics to the youngest, as well as a laboratory pump. In this way, the Lego Mindstorms minicomputer moves the tray on which the cell-filled gelatinous substance settles back and forth and the nozzle that ejects it up and down. The layers then accumulate in order to reproduce human tissue in three dimensions. In the future, researchers will be able to add diseased cells to their healthy models to study how skin conditions develop and evolve, and develop appropriate treatments.

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Source: UsineNouvelle – Actualités A la une by www.usinenouvelle.com.

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