Friday, June 20, 2014

What You Need To Know About 3D Printed Organs....

The first thing to consider is "why is the idea of 3d printed objects" is so popular.

Well from a straight numbers perspective, over 78 thousand new requests for transplant organs were made while only 34 hundred donations were made.   The idea of a printer that could print the failing organ would be a significant windfall.

Printers that can print material that is suitable for residence in the human body are really not all that new.   It was the Wake Forest Institute, who 3D-printed the synthetic building blocks they needed to grow human bladders.  Not the bladders but the "building blocks" that one day could become a bladder.  Or, more recently, the company Organovo founded in  2007, can now print out liver tissue samples that can be used for drug testing and research. The company's hoping to develop a functional liver in the near future.

Read how the printers work and how they deposit material Here

The real question now is, that with all this fantastic progress, how is it that we don't HAVE printed hearts and livers on demand.   Again it comes back to sophistication and complexity.    The first problem is finding material that can be used that can go through the printing process and then be robust enough to grow outside the human body.   You just can't take freshly printed cells and place them in a human body and hope then work.

Cornell engineer Hod Lipson:

    "You can put the cells of a heart tissue in the right place together, but where's the start button? The magic happens after printing has taken place."

 Lipson also notes that there's still no software powerful enough to make very detailed organ models that researchers can consult before printing.

Surgeon Anthony Atala notes that roughly 90% of the people on the waiting list are waiting for kidneys.  Atala is looking for ways to create a kidney using 3d printing, and even showed off a non-working model during his recent TEDs talk. 

Complete Endgadget article HERE

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