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First Human-Derived Body Part 3D-Printed in Space

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A Redwire vessel used to transport the meniscus.

Redwire says it is easier for viscous materials like tissue to hold their form in space, making them less complicated to construct without chemicals or scaffolding.

Credit: Emmalee Mauldin/Redwire

U.S. aerospace company Redwire said it has three-dimensionally (3D)-printed a human body part in space for the first time.

They manufacturing a meniscus (a C-shaped piece of cartilage that acts as a cushion between the shinbone and thighbone) from human-derived tissues aboard the International Space Station (ISS) as a proof of concept.

The company said the zero-gravity environment simplifies the assembly of viscous materials without chemicals or scaffolding because they can maintain their form more easily.

Redwire used stem cells and collagen to fabricate the meniscus with a specialized 3D bioprinter, then cultured the tissue for two weeks in another facility on the ISS.

Redwire's Mike Gold said the company will analyze the printed meniscus, now returned to Earth, to "understand the process, and try to build from this to reproduce the success."

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