For The First Time, Human Cartilage Has Been Engineered in Space

If we’re going to get severe about long-term place voyages, then becoming ready to patch up accidents will be vital – and that is no extended a considerably-off principle.

A cosmonaut on board the Worldwide Place Station just engineered human cartilage in the microgravity of place for the first time.


Bioprinters that can deliver human tissue currently exist on Earth, but they count on gravity and scaffolds in purchase to carry cartilage cells collectively.

The intelligent portion of the new course of action is using magnetism as a alternative for gravity, inside a bespoke assembly device.

With the assistance of magnetism, the results of microgravity and acceleration can be counteracted, and objects – these kinds of as cartilage cells – can be held in position completely ready for assembly.

Although the cells them selves are not magnetic, the fluid in the assembler is, and that can be applied to manipulate the tissue.

Ahead of the experiments on board the ISS, experts created mathematical designs and personal computer simulations to investigate the viability of the course of action, on the lookout at how microgravity could impact the way that cells ended up assembled.

The staff then created spheroids centered on human cartilage cells, which ended up packaged up and despatched to the ISS together with a custom made-built magnetic bioassembler.

On board the ISS, the crafting course of action required the cooling of the cartilage spheroids to launch them from their hydrogel packaging, just before they ended up put into the bioassembler to be assembled into the appropriate kind, as you can see in the impression over.


Cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko done the experiment.

“Men and women have been undertaking biological experiments and culturing cells in place, but becoming ready to essentially assemble these building blocks into additional sophisticated structures using a biomanufacturing software – that is a first,” radiologist Utkan Demirci, from Stanford College, told IEEE Spectrum.

Even further down the line, the exact magnetic assembly strategy could even be applied to assemble resources in place built up of both equally biological and inorganic resources. We could even be changing bones when out browsing other planets.

There is certainly a ton additional operate required to get to that phase although, not minimum obtaining this type of products place-completely ready – sensitive devices and place journey you should not genuinely mix very well, and equipment want to strike a particular stage of robustness to survive the excursion.

Even with engineering issues forward, the study factors to procedures that could “substantially advance tissue engineering”, according to the researchers themselves.

With development becoming built in increasing meat and fruit out in place also, a excursion to Mars is sounding a lot less challenging all the time.

“One could consider not also considerably in the long run that if we colonise Mars or do long-term place journey, we could want to do experiments the place we establish practical tissues in place, and examination them in extraterrestrial environments,” Demirci told IEEE Spectrum.

The investigate has been revealed in Science Advances.