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3D-printed organs: The future of healthcare and technology combined

Though the artificial creation of human skin, tissue and internal organs may sound like an ambitious pipe dream, time and investment are making it happen right now in research facilities providing new options for treatment. According to research, around 20 people die each day waiting for a transplant. Shortage of organs donors is making it worse making scientists turn to technology to solve this issue.

Researchers hope that within two decades, the transplant waiting list will be a thing of the distant past. They aim the printing and transplantation of an organ without going through rejection from the body.

Basics of Bioprinting:

We all know how printers work right? In our day to day lives, we print texts or images for office work or school projects or even for requirements at home. Bioprinters works on the concept of 3D printers that we use. What the bioprinters do is, they deposit layers of biomaterial, including living cells to build complex structures like skin tissue or blood vessels. Cells are taken from the patient, cultivated to create the bio-ink, then loaded into the printer. These printers even deliver gel which supports the cells to attach and grow. Scientists are also capable to control the shape and final structure of the organ using the printer.

How successful are we to bioprinting internal organs?

Though the development of less complex organs is already possible, to bio-print complex human organs, today’s technology is not yet sophisticated enough. Researchers of Wake Forest University in North California were able to bio-print a patient’s bladder and transplant into the patient’s body.

Although they are not yet successful in making human “heart”, they are eventually taking small steps towards it. BioLife4D successfully produced human tissue in the form of a cardiac patch. Now they are looking forward to the development of valves, blood vessels and a mini-heart. The company aspires to achieve the formation of a human heart by using the patient’s WBC. The founder of BioLife4D, Steven Morris, says that the progress they are making in their work, will soon solve the problem of supply and enable people on waiting lists to get hearts.

Bottom Line:

Bioprinting is accelerating at a massive rate in spite of all the complications. Researchers working in the field are making progress every day, in both technologies and in understanding how it can be used. The future of healthcare and technology combined can do wonders. Thanks to bioprinting!

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