New successes in printing vascular tissue from living cells point to the accelerating pace of development of 3D printing tissue and eventually the ability to manufacture organs from small samples of cells.

Late last month Prellis Biologics announced a $8.7 million round of funding and some significant advancements that point the way forward for 3D printed organs while a company called Volumetric Bio based on research from a slew of different universities unveiled significant progress of its own earlier this year.

The new successes from Prellis have the company speeding up its timeline to commercialization including the sale of its vascular tissue structures to research institutions and looking ahead to providing vascularized skin grafts, insulin producing sells, and a vascular shunt made from the tissue of patients who need dialysis, according to an interview with Melanie Matheu, Prellis chief executive officer and co-founder.

The creation of a vascular shunt made from a patients own cells should increase the chances of the procedure working successfully, says Matheu. [If] that shunt fails there arent many other options and then people have ports put in their chest. The proposed treatment from Prellis could increase quality of life and longevity of people who are waiting for a kidney, according to Matheu.

A few months earlier, a team of researchersled by bioengineers Jordan Millerof Rice University andKelly Stevens of the University of Washington (UW) with collaborators from UW, Duke University, Rowan University and the design firm, Nervous System, revealed a model of an air sac that mimicked the function of human lungs. The model could deliver oxygen to surrounding blood vessels creating vascular networks that mimic the bodys own passageways.

One of the biggest road blocks to generating functional tissue replacements has been our inability to print the complex vasculature that can supply nutrients to densely populated tissues, said Miller, assistant professor of bioengineering at RicesBrown School of Engineering, in a statement. Further, our organs actually contain independent vascular networks like the airways and blood vessels of the lung or the bile ducts and blood vessels in the liver. These interpenetrating networks are physically and biochemically entangled, and the architecture itself is intimately related to tissue function. Ours is the first bioprinting technology that addresses the challenge of multivascularization in a direct and comprehensive way.