NASA named two research groups as the first and second winners of its Challenge to Present and Engineer Living Tissues.
According to News i and quoted by SpaceScientists have successfully kept cultured liver tissue alive in a laboratory for 30 days. This is part of NASA’s Vascular Tissue Challenge.
In 2016, NASA launched a competition to find research teams that could provide human organ tissues on-site for research advancement and medical efficiency. Now the space agency has announced two winners in this challenge.
The two research groups, from the Wake Forest Institute in the United States, won first and second place in the competition with two different approaches to inventing human liver tissue in the laboratory.
“I can’t say how impressive this success is,” said Jim Reuter, NASA’s director of space technology. When NASA launched this challenge in 2016, we were not sure there would be a winner. If one day we hear about the first organ transplant and imagine that NASA may play a role, we will see an exception.
Both winning teams used 3D printing technology to create their own textures. According to the rules of the challenge, the groups had to keep the fabric alive for 30 days, but to engineer the tissue and keep it alive, they had to transfer nutrients and oxygen to it and remove the waste. In living tissues, this process is done by blood vessels, but it is difficult to do it artificially.
Using different materials and different 3D printing designs, both groups developed gel-like frames for their tissue that contained channels for the passage of oxygen and nutrients. The researchers were able to control the flow of nutrients through artificial blood vessels without leaking.
The first group to complete its experiment with engineered tissue and complete it according to the rules of the challenge is a group called Winston, which will receive a $ 300,000 prize and will have the opportunity to do more research outside of International Space Station (ISS).
The second-ranked group is called the “WFIRM” group and will receive a $ 100,000 prize.
This challenge is not over yet. While the two current winners will go home with their prizes, the other two groups will compete for third place with a prize of $ 100,000.