Everything can go missing thousands of kilometers from Earth and nothing can be foreseen in its entirety. In the event of a medical emergency, it is not possible to return immediately to the planet, when one, for example, is on the way to Mars.
That is why scientists from all over the world are thinking about how a milestone can be carried forward with all the possible forecasts.
And 3D printing, one of the latest technological advances, has a lot to do with new space research.
Scientists from the University Hospital of the Technical University of Dresden (TUD), in Germany, have managed to produce samples of bioprinted bones and skin in the framework of a project sponsored by the European Space Agency (ESA) to address medical emergencies in a future trip to Mars.
“The skin cells can be bioprinted using as a biotin rich in human blood plasma, easy to obtain from the crew of a mission,” explained Nieves Cubo, of the TUD, according to the statement released today by ESA.
“As the plasma has a very fluid consistency, the scientists developed a modified recipe by adding methylcellulose and alginate to increase the viscosity of the substrate, in order to be able to use it in conditions of altered gravity,” he said.
He said that to produce bone samples, human stem cells were printed with a similar biotin composition, adding a bone cement of calcium phosphate as a structural support material, which would then be absorbed during the growth phase.
Tommaso Ghidini, director of the Structure, Mechanisms and Materials division of ESA, which oversees the project, recalled that a trip to Mars.
Or other interplanetary destinations will involve spending several years in space and that there will be no option to return earlier than expected. in case of a medical emergency.
“Nor will it be possible to transport enough medical supplies to cope with any eventuality, so 3D bioprinting could be the way to respond to medical emergencies,” he said.
Bring enough medical supplies for all possible eventualities would be impossible in the limited space of a spaceship. In contrast, 3D bioprinting capability will allow them to respond to medical emergencies as they arise, “he added.
Also in the case of bone fractures, whose probability is greater in the weightlessness of space or in the partial gravity of Mars, which is 0.38 times that of the Earth, replacement bone could be inserted in the damaged areas, he explained.
“In all cases, the bioprinted material would come from the astronaut himself, so there would be no rejection problems,” he added.
At the same time, he expressed his hope that the work they are carrying out in the framework of this project for its application in space missions “will also contribute to its progress on Earth, accelerating its availability and making it reach people before” .
The project also includes the TUD Bone, Joint and Soft Tissue Research Center, the German OHB System as the main contractor and the life sciences specialist Blue Horizon.