The sections of bone, muscle and cartilage all functioned normally when implanted into animals. The breakthrough, published in Nature Biotechnology, raises the hope of using living tissues to repair the body. Experts described the technology, developed in the US, as a “goose that really does lay golden eggs”.
The idea of placing individual human cells in a precise pattern to replace a damaged jaw, missing ear or scarred heart muscle holds much promise. But the field has been limited by the huge challenge of keeping the cells alive – they become starved of oxygen and nutrients in tissues thicker than 0.2 millimetres. Scientists have cautioned there was still more research to be done before the printer could be used in patients.