Engineers 3D-print lifelike liver tissue

Recently a team led by engineers at the University of California, San Diego has 3D-printed a tissue that closely mimics the human liver’s sophisticated structure and function. The new model could be used for patient-specific drug screening and disease modeling. Researchers said the advance could help pharmaceutical companies save time and money when developing new drugs. The UC San Diego team engineered a human liver tissue model that more closely resembles the real thing.

The liver is unique in that it receives a dual blood supply with different pressures and chemical constituents. Our model has the potential of reproducing this intricate blood supply system, thus providing unprecedented understanding of the complex coupling between circulation and metabolic functions of the liver in health and disease,” said Shu Chien, co-senior author, who studies how blood flow and pressure affect blood vessels.

The liver tissue constructed by this novel 3D printing technology will also be extremely useful in reproducing in vitro disease models such as hepatitis, cirrhosis, and cancer,” added Chien. “Such realistic models will be invaluable for the study of the pathophysiology and metabolic abnormalities in these diseases and the efficacy of drug therapies.”