a close up of a small ice sculpture shaped like a delicate branching blood vessel shown next to a florescent image of cells grown in the same shape

Scientists are working to build blood vessels from human cells using tiny ice sculptures — these frigid 3D forms twist and branch like real arteries and can be used as temporary scaffolds that later get melted away, to be replaced by living cells.

The researchers demonstrated the first step of this blood-vessel-building process in a recent study by creating the scaffolds using a 3D “ice printing” technique. The scaffolds were then coated in a gel that was embedded with human cells, which the team grew for about two weeks.

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