This remarkable soft robotic arm can be used to 3D print biological material directly onto existing organs in the human body.
The new research from UNSW Medical Robotics Lab, led by Dr. Thanh Nho Do and his Ph.D. student Mai Thanh Thai, in collaboration with other researchers from UNSW including Scientia Professor Nigel Lovell, Dr. Hoang-Phuong Phan, and Associate Professor Jelena Rnjak-Kovacina, is detailed in a paper published in Advanced Science.
Their work has resulted in a tiny flexible 3D bioprinter that has the ability to be inserted into the body just like an endoscope and directly deliver multilayered biomaterials onto the surface of internal organs and tissues.
The proof-of-concept device, known as F3DB, features a highly maneuverable swivel head that "prints" the bioink, attached to the end of a long and flexible snake-like robotic arm, all of which can be controlled externally.
This bioprinter appears to accomplish in reality what this fictional device from the movie Starship Troopers is doing.
(Starship Troopers medical tank)
Also, it would make possible what sf writer Philip K. Dick envisioned in his 1969 masterpiece Ubik. Dick introduced the idea of implanting secondary artificial organic organs - perhaps smaller versions of the originals - as backup.
Probably Runciter's body contained a dozen artiforgs, artificial organs grafted into place in his physiological apparatus as the genuine, original ones, failed.
(Read more about Dick's artiforgs)
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