Have you ever wondered if it would be possible to ‘print,’ human organs for medical use? The recent developments in the medical tech sphere suggest that this may become a reality sooner than we think.
What is the process?
3D organ printing, otherwise known as bioprinting, enables cellular structures to be fabricated using bio-inks that are laced with stem cells. A biomaterial is deposited layer by layer to make tissue, skin, and sometimes even an organ!
Making high-quality 3D model printed parts suitable for transplantation would result in a long-term solution to help understand certain diseases better as well as deal with a lack of organ donors. Below are some examples of the main bioprinting projects, including some 3D-printed organs!
A 3D Printed Heart
In April 2019 a team of researchers in Israel was able to print a small 3D heart the size of a cherry. The heart possessed cells, blood vessels, chambers, and ventricles, resulting in a first for the industry.
To reduce the chance of rejection when implanted the researchers used the patient’s fat tissue to develop a hydrogel. Although the heart is about the same size as a rabbit’s, it is a step in the right direction.
3D Printing An Ear
The Queensland University of Technology helped Maia Van Mulligan regain her hearing by using 3D printing to make her a new ear. They used her cartilage cells in order to make the ear so that there was little risk of rejection when installed. They state the ear is fully functional and will allow Maia to hear again, suprisingly this type of printing is less expensive than current alternatives.