Researchers at University of California, San Diego are using 3D printing methods to build millimeter-scale networks that mimic vascular structures. From the Medgadget article:
“The new method, called microscale continuous optical bioprinting (μCOB), involves embedding a mix of different kinds of live cells into a hydrogel and then using ultraviolet light and mirrors to heat up and solidify 3D patterns within the hydrogel.”
The researchers hope that the capillary networks they build can carry oxygen and nutrients to sustain cell colonies that can be grown for therapies in would care, artificial organs and regenerative medicine.
I suspect we’ll continue to learn of hydrogels being used as a key component in more and more innovative medical technologies.