3D Printed Nerve Stem Cells Help Repair Spinal Cord

Experts from the University of Minnesota have received the first working samples of "living" prostheses for the nervous system. They managed to solve the most difficult problem - how to print a microstructural complex on a 3D printer using real living cells. So that they subsequently grow and merge with neurons, eliminating the damage in the spinal cord.

In words, everything looks simple: scientists took from the consumable material, skin and blood, a certain number of cells that were bioengineered. The result is induced pluripotent stem cells - mutant cells that are ready, under suitable conditions, to start growing and turn into full-fledged neurons. Now it remains to print a silicone frame, a system of "beds" on which these cells are planted, and the whole structure is put in place of the injury in the spinal cord.

In practice, this was the first time that scientists managed not only to keep almost 75% of highly vulnerable cells alive during 3D printing, but also to observe how a certain number grew into healthy neurons. The next success was that they made the cells grow in the right directions and were able to maintain their sufficient volume for a while until they came into contact with the living tissues of the area to be healed. Scientists are very pleased that they have managed to create conditions under which nerve stem cells can be kept in an active state inside the prosthesis.

Now the most difficult thing begins, you need to study how such prostheses take root and what connections they form with the neurons of the body. Will the spinal cord recovery be 50% complete or only fragmentary, “as luck would have it”? Many people with such injuries would be eternally grateful for just one opportunity to control the bladder, but scientists cherish the hope of learning how to completely "repair" any spinal cord injury.