Genetic 'glue' helps make 3D-printed organs

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Genetic 'glue' helps make 3D-printed organs

No, you're not looking at a dessert gone horribly wrong -- that might just be the future of synthetic organ transplants. Scientists at the University of Texas at Austin have developed a genetic "glue" that forms gels useful for 3D printing organic tissues. The key is using custom-designed, complementary DNA strands that bond just the way you'd like them. This flexibility would let hospitals and labs create organs that grow in a specific way, and take on specific structures. In short, it'd be relatively easy to print the exact organ you need, and even customize it for the recipient if necessary.

Don't expect to get a tailor-made kidney on demand all that soon. As notes, DNA is delicate stuff -- it's good for small-scale efforts, but scaling it up to human-sized parts could be a challenge. If the team makes this gene-based glue work, though, you might not have to worry about waiting for donated organs if you're ever in need of life-saving surgery.

[Image credit: American Chemical Society]

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