Professor Shulamit Levenberg, head of the new Faculty of Biomedical Engineering at the Technion–Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa.
(photo credit: NITZAN ZOHAR/TECHNION SPOKESPERSON'S OFFICE)
Technology has come a long way from the printing press, to making a Xerox copy, to now printing human tissue. Israel continues to be on the cutting edge of biomedical engineering with the newly established 3-D Bio-Printing Center for Cell and Biomaterials Printing at the campus of the Technion Institute of Technology in Haifa, unveiled this week.
Professor Shulamit Levenberg, Dean of the Biomedical Engineering department, heads the new center and spoke to The Jerusalem Post about the new tool that could revolutionize the medical field.
“We are still working on researching tissue engineering,” she stated “but the printer takes it to a new level.”
The large device looks like a cross between a normal printer for making paper copies and a sewing machine.
First, researchers can draw what they want the tissue to look like on the computer connected to the printer, sewing what she called a scaffold, much like construction workers erecting building once the “3-D matrix,” as Levenberg describes it, is built “the scaffold degrades and you are left with just the tissue.”
Then the printer – using what looks like a stylus – prints a gel with human tissue onto a culture dish in whatever shape is needed.
“The goal is to make tissue to repair or replace muscle, bone, heart tissue and ears,” Levenberg explained. “With a 3-D printer, larger tissue can be applied to an injury site and made to the exact size and shape.”
“Unlike organ donations which can be rejected by the patient, the 3-D printer uses the patient's own cells,” she explained. X-rays and CT scans of a patient’s body can be uploaded and customized on the computer.
Born in Israel, Levenberg studied at Hebrew University in Jerusalem and the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot before she began researching the field of tissue engineering at MIT in Boston, Massachusetts under the renowned Prof. Robert Langer. She was later recruited by the Technion where she is now a Biomedical Engineering faculty member.
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