Breakthrough Study Prints 3D Stem Cells
The future of donor organs could lie in 3D printing, and that reality is a little closer now that scientists have developed the first printer for embryonic human stem cells.
Researchers from the University of Edinburgh, Scotland have created a cell printer that produces living embryonic stem cells. According to reports, the printer is capable of printing uniform-size droplets of cells, gently enough to keep them alive and to maintain their ability to develop into different cell types.
The new printing method could be used to develop 3D human tissues for testing new drugs, to create donor organs or ultimately print cells directly inside the body.
“Human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) are obtained from human embryos and can develop into any cell type in an adult person, from brain tissue to muscle to bone. This attribute makes them ideal for use in regenerative medicine — repairing, replacing and regenerating damaged cells, tissues or organs,” reads a report published on LiveScience.com.
“In a lab dish, hESCs can be placed in a solution that contains the biological cues that tell the cells to develop into specific tissue types, a process called differentiation. The process starts with the cells forming what are called “embryoid bodies”. Cell printers offer a means of producing embryoid bodies of a defined size and shape.”
The 3D Printer
The cell printer used in the study conducted at the University of Edinburgh was made from a modified CNC machine (a computer controlled machining tool) outfitted with two bio-ink dispensers, one containing stem cells in a nutrient-rich soup called cell medium and another containing just the medium.
The cells were printed onto a dish and tests revealed that more than 95 percent of the cells were still alive 24 hours after being printed, suggesting they had not been killed by the printing process. More than 89 percent of the cells were still alive three days later, and also tested positive for a marker of their pluripotency — their potential to develop into different cell types.
Biomedical engineer Utkan Demirci, of Harvard University Medical School and Brigham and Women's Hospital, has done pioneering work in printing cells, and thinks the new study is taking it in an exciting direction. “This technology could be really good for high-throughput drug testing,” Demirci told LiveScience.com. One can build mini-tissues from the bottom up, using a repeatable, reliable method, he said. Building whole organs is the long-term goal, though Demirci cautioned that it “may be quite far from where we are today.”
Skin Analytics wins NHSX award for AI skin cancer tool
An artificial intelligence-driven tool that identifies skin cancers has received an award from NHSX, the NHS England and Department of Health and Social Care's initiative to bring technology into the UK's national health system.
NHSX has granted the Artificial Intelligence in Health and Care Award to DERM, an AI solution that can identify 11 types of skin lesion.
Developed by Skin Analytics, DERM analyses images of skin lesions using algorithms. Within primary care, Skin Analytics will be used as an additional tool to help doctors with their decision making.
In secondary care, it enables AI telehealth hubs to support dermatologists with triage, directing patients to the right next step. This will help speed up diagnosis, and patients with benign skin lesions can be identified earlier, redirecting them away from dermatology departments that are at full capacity due to the COVID-19 backlog.
Cancer Research has called the impact of the pandemic on cancer services "devastating", with a 42% drop in the number of people starting cancer treatment after screening.
DERM is already in use at University Hospitals Birmingham and Mid and South Essex Health & Care Partnership, where it has led to a significant reduction in unnecessary referrals to hospital.
Now NHSX have granted it the Phase 4 AI in Health and Care Award, making DERM available to clinicians across the country. Overall this award makes £140 million available over four years to accelerate the use of artificial intelligence technologies which meet the aims of the NHS Long Term Plan.
Dr Lucy Thomas, Consultant Dermatologist at Chelsea & Westminster Hospital, said: “Skin Analytics’ receipt of this award is great news for the NHS and dermatology departments. It will allow us to gather real-world data to demonstrate the benefits of AI on patient pathways and workforce challenges.
"Like many services, dermatology has severe backlogs due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This award couldn't have come at a better time to aid recovery and give us more time with the patients most in need of our help.”