The name given to an embryonic stem cell when used to manufacture human organs via a 3-D printer.
Historical perspective: The prospect of manufacturing new human organs with a 3-D printer came closer to reality in early 2013 when Scottish researchers, for the first time, used human embryonic stem cells --which can transform into any cell type in the body-- as "bio ink" in a 3-D printer.
Until then, the fragile cells have been unable to survive the printing process. But using a specially designed 3-D printer similar to the size of a standard desktop-size laser printer, researchers were able to print clusters of human embryonic stem cells in precise shapes while keeping the cells alive, says study author Will Shu of Heriot-Watt university in Edinburgh. One day, a similar method could be used to manufacture made-to-order tracheas, kidneys, or hearts. Shu and his colleagues next hope to use embryonic stem cells to print liver tissue, which has a fairly simple structure, and which could be used instead of live animals to test drugs.