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This Is What 3D-Printed Body Parts Made Of Living Tissue Look Like

So far, they've only been implanted into mice. But scientists say they're hopeful the 3D-printed tissue will eventually be used in human reconstructive surgery.

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Scientists in the US have used a 3D printer to create living body parts.

Wake Forest Baptist Medical Centre / SWNS

The specially designed printers, developed at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Centre in North Carolina, are able to create muscle, bone, cartilage, and whole organs.

The printed body parts have been implanted into animals, where they functioned normally.

Wake Forest Baptist Medical Centre / SWNS

Parts like this ear (right) and this section of jawbone grew healthy blood vessels when they were implanted, according to a study released in the journal Nature Biotechnology.

The researchers hope that in future, the technique could be used to create 3D-printed parts that could be implanted into humans.

Wake Forest Baptist Medical Centre / SWNS

The study's senior author, Anthony Atala, said in a statement: "With further development, this technology could potentially be used to print living tissue and organ structures for surgical implantation."

So far, it has only been tested in mice.

Wake Forest Baptist Medical Centre / SWNS

However, a human-sized ear implanted under the skin of a mouse was still healthy and intact two months after implantation, so the researchers are optimistic.

Tom Chivers is a science writer for BuzzFeed and is based in London.

Contact Tom Chivers at tom.chivers@buzzfeed.com.

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