Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Living Doll
14 January 2018

Living Doll

The recent boom in 3D printing has made what once seemed amazing – printing an exact replica of this doll’s head, for example – actually quite commonplace. Trust biologists to take things a step further. Researchers scanned the doll’s face (top left), then created a computer map of her features. Next, the fun part – using their map as a guide, they printed a special functional living ink, or Flink over the top (shown in lighter blue). The Flink has an unusual ingredient – A. xylinumwas bacteria which produce bacterial cellulose, commonly used in human skin transplants. After washing away the bacteria, the doll has new artificial skin – a process that could be tweaked for human patients. Moulding bacterial cellulose to different 3D shapes has massive implications for many other human surgeries, while Flinks with other living ingredients are already being sent to the printers.

Written by John Ankers

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