Doctors dream of using 3D-printed tissues to patch up injuries, but current techniques tend to kill a lot of the cells used in the process. Thankfully, researchers at Oxford University spin-off OxSyBio have found a gentler way to build these materials. Their technique 3D prints water droplets filled with chemicals that let them change shape and transmit electrical signals like real cells. The result is both kinder to living tissues and more controllable -- you don't have to worry about growth or other organic reactions.
The technique is very precise, and could eventually lead to printing out individual cells. Just don't expect water-based organs in the foreseeable future. Professor Hagan Bayley tells Motherboard that he's not expecting surgery-quality tissue for another five to 10 years, and near-term plans involve printing small tissues for testing drugs. However, the scale is only really limited by available resources. As far as OxSyBio is concerned, it's just a matter of time before doctors can repair scarred hearts and other organs using mostly synthetic substances.