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3D Printed Device Can Detoxify Blood in the Way Liver Does

3D Printed Liver

Image credit: UC San Diego.

Although this new 3D printed device does not look like a liver, it is actually able to detoxify the blood just as the liver does. Even if it is still the concept to be proved in practice, the nanoengineers strongly hopes that such device could act as a dialysis sometime in the future.

Animal bites, stings, and bacterial infections are regarded to accumulate toxins in the blood which are certainly to form pores and much harmful to cellular membranes. According to previous study, nanoparticles could neutralize these pore-forming toxins, but in the end, they would accumulate in the liver, which could cause the secondary poisoning, thus leaving an useless situation.

This new device is used to apply nanoparticles for trapping such toxins so as to prevent any possible illnesses. In order to allow these nanoparticles to be more digestible, the team led by Maling Gou and Shaochen Chen of the University of California, San Diego, had created a 3D-printed hydrogel matrix to harbor them. What they were doing was to create a device mimicking the liver’s function to firstly sense, then attract and capture the toxins transmitted from the blood. Just like a dialysis, the device was designed for application outside the body. With a large surface area, it could specifically trap toxins within itself, turning red when such toxins were caught. Their research was published in recent edition of Nature Communications.

The biofabrication technology they developed is also known as dynamic optical projection stereolithography. With application of a projection system and tiny mirrors, it could shine a light on photosensitive biopolymers and cells in a solution. In the process, one solid layer was formed at a time and was kept doing continuously. Its final resolution lies at the nanoscale, which would be useful in production of blood vessels and other tiny as well as detailed structures.

Source: UC San Diego

Journal reference: Gou, Maling, et al. “Bio-inspired detoxification using 3D-printed hydrogel nanocomposites.” Nature communications 5 (2014).