Buy a New Kidney or Heart With a Bioprinter

Modern medicine

The day when a person can drop in at the corner organ center and buy a new liver is far in the future, but bioprinting technology will make it possible. Researchers are already experimenting with printing arteries for implantation into patients with clogged arteries. Here, then, is where the bioprinting technology stands as of today.

Bioprinting is the process of using a three-dimensional printer to create living tissue. The process is still in its infancy, and researchers are trying different methods to perfect bioprinting. For example, Cornell University is working on creating heart aorta valves. Should these researchers perfect the process, these bioprinted tissues could be used to replace faulty valves in children with heart disease.

To create a suitable tissue replacement, researchers must first scan the tissue part with a CT or MRI scan. This gives them the exact shape and dimensions needed to produce a faithful replacement on a bioprinter.

Next, a computer design application will map out a detailed file that will tell the bioprinter where every applicable cell needs to be placed in the new generated tissue.

Now the bioprinter needs an ink to print out the replacement tissue. This ink will be composed of living cell material from the patient which is combined with a medical base soup such as collagen. This will create the building blocks needed to construct a suitable replacement tissue. Medical specialists will need to tweak the material to perform exact functions when implanted into the body, such as attaching itself to specific organs or muscles.

The entire process will be performed under the medical discipline of regenerative medicine or cellular and molecular engineering.

Researchers are probably not near to creating new organs with bioprinting techniques. Probably must be used as a qualifier because various research labs are racing to become the first to perfect the technique. It’s likely that the first lab that maps the techniques and files the patents will make a bundle of money. For that reason, research labs will not be forthcoming with details that competitors could use.

These 3-D printers are truly revolutionary as can be seen in bioprinting possibilities. Visionaries are speculating that even food could be printed to feed hungry nations. The Star Trek food synthesizer delivering a burger, fries, salad and tea may become a reality in some future tomorrow.

Printing the human body, though, is what’s creating the excitement in 3-D technology. The goal is to print workable organs that can be transplanted into the human body. Patients waiting for livers would be saved and allowed to live normal lives. It would also work for kidneys and hearts. More than 100,000 patients are waiting for organ transplants in the U.S. Researchers are speculating that in the future, a liver could be printed in about three hours.

Today, researchers are printing small tissue samples for testing. Tomorrow, these small tissues will be available for transplants. In the future, organs will be printed and sold to people. The exact year when that future arrives is unknown.

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