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Definition: bioprinting

Using a specialized 3D printer to create human tissue. Instead of depositing liquid plastic or metal powder to build objects, the bioprinter deposits living cells layer by layer. Although decades away, the goal is to replace donor organs and their ongoing rejection issue with organs 3D printed from a patient's own cells. In the meantime, being able to routinely print tissue that can replace damaged areas in an organ is expected to materialize on a large scale. See tissue engineering.

Early Results
In 2002, Professor Makoto Nakamura of the University of Toyama, Japan determined that human cells were the same size as the ink droplets in an inkjet printer. In 2008, using a modified inkjet printer, Nakamura created a double-walled tube similar to a human blood vessel. In 2013 Cornell University printed ear cartilage that, after implantation, is expected to grow like normal tissue. Also in 2013, San Diego, CA-based Oragnovo printed tiny human liver samples. When subjected to diseases and drugs, the samples behave more like real organs than the commonly used 2D cultures and can determine a drug's efficacy before engaging in clinical trials. See organ on a chip and 3D printing.