Pharmacists Anne Mitje van Gendenen and Marta García-Valverde of Utrecht University have made 3D-printed tubes. This makes it possible to simulate live tubes well and to research kidney disease and their treatment can be done without the need for laboratory animals.
It is difficult to grow kidney cells in a laboratory so that they behave like a real kidney. For example, kidney cells for research purposes usually grow on flat surfaces, when in fact they grow in twisted hollow tubes. This is why laboratory animals are still widely used in kidney research. However, the response observed in animals is often different from that observed in humans.
So Van Genderen and Valverde searched for alternatives and developed materials to produce models of tubes using a 3D printer. For this they use a stable “ink” based on gelatin and alginate. By combining the composition of the ink, the printing temperature, and the speed with which the material is compressed in a certain way, an optimal structure and viscosity were created. Thanks in part to these 3D-printed tubes, fewer lab animals will be needed to perform certain kidney studies in the future. The research was recently published in biofabrication.
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