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Printing 3-D Stencils for Stem Cell Research

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BOSTON, March 20, 2013 — Potomac Photonics, a digital manufacturing company, announced that it recently completed rapid prototyping of precision 3-D printed parts for Boston University to support the university’s stem cell research. Stem cells have enormous potential in medical research. Their ability to differentiate into specialized cells types may one day provide a renewable source of replacement cells for people who require organ transplants or suffer from ailments, such as Parkinson’s disease, Type I diabetes or cardiovascular disease.

According to BU investigators, understanding and controlling stem cell differentiation in vitro is proving to be a major challenge because the cells can interact with each other either through direct contact or by cell-secreted factors. A more controlled cell microenvironment is needed to systematically reveal the important factors that influence cell behavior.

Utilizing a high-resolution 3-D printer, Potomac Photonics fabricated precision stencils to pattern seeded stem cells such that the cells are grown in a defined arrangement relative to each other. By preparing various stencils, the BU researchers hope to determine how the relative position of stem cells affects their differentiation efficiency and differentiated descendants.

This work, which was performed within Potomac Photonics’ Educational Manufacturing Initiative, demonstrated another way that 3-D printing and advanced micromanufacturing technologies are spearheading the development of innovative new applications and products.

Source:, © 2013 Novus Media Today Group LLC. All rights reserved.


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