Assembling Living Tissue With 3D Maglev Tech: A Biohacker’s Dream Come True

John Hewitt | ExtremeTech | January 30, 2013

The handmaiden of scientific discovery is a new tool. Good researchers build their own instruments and nowadays the best among them often seek to commercialize their successes for others to expand upon. Nothing says look at what my instrument can do better in the the age of commercial science than a new discovery. Engineers at Nano3D Biosciences recently showcased a new technology in which they magnetically levitate four kinds of cells and assemble them into realistic lung tissue. Not only do they not mind if you use their techniques for yourself, they have made a Mad Scientist kit available free of charge to any serious user, and offered hard cash incentives for the most innovative use of their product. Entry into the brave new world of biohacking just got a whole lot easier.

Artifical organs-on-a-chip have replicated many of the essential functions of the different organ systems of the body, including lungs. Typically these successes have been difficult to scale up to sizes where a human might benefit from them. Most organs involve metabolic exchange and conditioning across 2D surfaces which are in turn organized into a higher order geometry that further optimizes their function. Attempts to create all-natural replacement organs through 3D printing technologies have been encouraging for simple bladders or valves, but the fractal organization of more complex vascularized tissues has been more difficult to reproduce. Mainly this is because the simultaneous expression of unique adhesion elements on the different component cells can not yet be coordinately controlled. Also the organizing influence of oxygen and nutrient gradients are not present in the absence of capillary beds. The result is that the cells typically coalesce to simpler forms lacking the structural and functional richness of the prototypical parent organ...