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Bioprinting a "mini-brain" Neural Network

Researchers from Monash University recently announced an interesting success in using digital fabrication (in this case, 3D bioprinting) to create a neural network of actual functioning living cells.

The team hopes that this will lead to ways of running experiments without using animals. Others in the field suggest that 3D neural networks will merge with AI to produce “organoid intelligence” that could someday be used for biological computing.

Led by materials science and engineering professor John Forsythe, the Monash team described their experiment in June in Advanced Healthcare Materials. Just like how inkjet printers funnel ink from cartridges to a piece of paper, Forsythe’s team printed neural structures by squeezing “bioink”—rat brain cells suspended in a gel—out of a nozzle and into a scaffold. They built their neural networks by crosshatching layer by layer, stacking eight vertical layers alternating between bioinks with and without cells.

Digital fabrication continues to expand and evolve. Reach out to us to learn how we can work with your team to explore the futures and implications of digital fabrication and other emerging technologies for your organization.

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