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Scientists Discover Method of Printing Human Stem Cells

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Several months back, I wrote about the possibility of making a gun from your home printer. Now if that wasn't weird enough, consider this: human stem cells from your printer. It's not a weird sci-fi movie; it's real and scientists are hoping that it could be the wave of the future.

In a new study conducted by researchers at the University of Edinburgh, the first cell printer was created that can produce live human embryonic stem cells. The printer was able to produce uniform-size cells gently enough that they were able to live and develop into different types of cells. The new method could be used to make 3D human tissue that could be developed into organs, or be used to test the effects of drugs. The ultimate goal would be to print cells directly into the human body.

The printer uses two types of "ink"–one containing stem cells in a nutrient rich liquid to keep them alive called cell medium and another containing just cell medium. The stem cells are dispensed through computer-operated valves and microscope provides a close-up of what's being printed. The cells were then printed onto a dish that contained many small wells and the dish is then flipped over so that each cell hangs from a well and forms a clump. Post-tests revealed that 95% of the cells were alive after the printing was over and 89% were still alive three days later. This sounds like an amazing process–but what do you think–are there too many ethical problems at play here?