Researchers at Tel Aviv University have 3D printed a working cancer tumor.
The specific cancer tissue involved is a glioblastoma. This is a highly aggressive, nearly 100% fatal brain tumor that gives diagnosed patients typically only a year or so to survive. The project managed to 3D print one.
To be honest, when I first heard of this project, I thought the researchers had merely 3D printed a mechanical replica of the cancer’s geometry. This type of healthcare application is now commonly done, particularly for surgeons. The idea is to 3D print a physical replica for the surgeons to plot out a complex surgical procedure using physical structures that match those they will encounter inside the patient.
That’s not what this project does. Not at all.
Instead, the researchers were able to grow a supply of cancer cells by sampling from a real patient suffering from a glioblastoma tumor. They then used a bioprinter to 3D print a replica of the tumor. However, the print included not only the cancer cells, but also blood vessels.