UBC venture has a new approach to 3D bioprinting to create human cells for drug trials

The first thing that popped into Simon Beyer’s mind when he heard about 3D bio-printing was a scene from the 1997 film The Fifth Element where scientists reconstruct an entire person from just a hand. “It sounds like science fiction,” says the UBC PhD student and one of the founders ofAspect Biosystems, a company that is using 3D printing technology to create human tissue.

3D printing was invented in the 1980s and can now make everything from prosthetic limbs to fashion accessories. But the greatest potential of this new technology may lie in the power to print human parts. While a handful of research groups worldwide have had minor successes printing human tissues, current technology is hard to adapt for biological purposes.

Now a group of researchers based out of Konrad Walus’ Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering lab think they have the right formula. And the most immediate impact might be to provide a new and better way to test drugs. Ultimately this kind of work could lead to growing organs for human transplant.

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