Lose your sight, print an eye. Get burned, spray on new skin. What seems like strange scenarios from a sci-fi movie are closer to reality then you might think. Researchers from John van Geest Centre for Brain Repair at the University of Cambridge have recently printed cells that are used to communicate sight to the brain in lab mice using a piezoelectric inkjet printer.
In the hypothetical process, cells would be printed using a specialized inkjet printer, then transplanted into blind patient’s heads, replacing damaged cells that are impairing vision.
So far, the results of the study are preliminary, and it is more a proof of concept than a real actionable process. But the printed cells did remain healthy, grow and retain their ability to survive when living in a culture.
“The finding that eye cells can survive the printing process suggests the exciting possibility that this technique could be used in the future to create organized tissues for regeneration of the eye and restoration of sight” says Prof Jim Bainbridge of London’s Moorfields Eye Hospital.
Though the process still needs substantial before eyes can be printed out and popped in your head, a gun that sprays on skin cells has been around for a few years, and has shown promising results with human trials.
Dr. Jörg Gerlach, inventor and researcher at the McGowan Institute for Regenerative medicine, has developed a process that sprays skin cells onto burn victims and will heal second-degree burns in a matter of days, instead of the current process that takes weeks or months.
Healthy skin cells are taken from the burn victim, isolated, made into a liquid solution and loaded into a sophisticated computer-controlled spray gun. The gun sprays the solution over the patients burned area. The whole process starts with a biopsy and ends with spraying, taking only about 90 minutes to complete. More trials are still needed before these guns make their way into burn centers, but the results are promising and, if nothing else, optimistic.
Photo: Subhashish Panigrahi/Wikimedia