One step closer to 3D printing organs for transplant

Need a new kidney, guess what? In the near future scientists will print another one for you, so be patient!

This kind of practice sounds like a science fiction script, but this technology could one day save some lives. And how awesome is that? To live with a printed and transplanted organ for the rest of your life.

3D printing organs for transplant has moved a step closer to their goal thanks to research by a team of scientists from Edinburgh’s Heriot-Watt University in Scotland. The team is lead by Prof. Rory Duncan and Dr. Will Shu of the University’s Institute of Biological Chemistry, Biophysics, and Bioengineering.

They are using a high-tech 3D bio-printer, and also have developed in combination of a two-part water-based gel made out of synthetic DNA.

It is very interesting how this technology works. Mixing cells with the DNA gel before they are printed in this 3D bio-printer into the form of a human organ using Heriot-Watt’s device.

The first challenge was that if we used a normal gel it was not possible to mix live cells with it for 3D printing. Colleagues at Tsinghua University in Beijing have developed a gel which, like some proprietary glues, comes as two separate liquids into which cells can be added. These do not turn into a gel until the two liquids are actually mixed together during the printing process

The researchers are optimistic and said that the new gel in combination with their revelation, the 3D live cell printer yields the potential for amazing long-term health benefits.

And you know, thousands of people die each year due to a lack of organs for transplantation and more than 120,000 people are on waiting lists for donated organs, and don’t forget about transplant rejection.

Imagine being able to use this technology, how great can be? Simply by pushing the print button and every medical crisis mentioned before, disappear.

That’s why members of Edinburgh team, like Professor Rory Duncan who also leads the team, and Dr. Will Shu, said the key challenge was finding a suitable “scaffold” to support live cells in 3D which would not be rejected by transplant recipients.

So, they were thinking how to solve the crisis (transplant rejection). Dr Will Shu, Institute of Biological Chemistry, Biophysics and Bioengineering, said:

Our eventual aim is to 3D print organs for transplant, as well as producing alternatives to the testing of drugs on animals. This new gel in combination with our 3D live cell printer is a huge step forward towards these potential long-term medical benefits

Although, scientists admit that growing human organs and also this project is still a long way to a medical success.  They have made tremendous progress since research started and they are still very optimistic.

On a related note, Professor Susan Dodds, dean of the Faculty of Arts and Professor of Philosophy at the University of Tasmania and co-author of the e-book “3D Bioprinting: Printing Parts for Bodies” thinks that 3D printing can be a great new revelation for humanity, and can offer benefits in medicine, but it also raises ethical issues like justice in access to health care, whether these technologies should be used to enhance the capacity of individuals beyond what is ‘normal’ for humans, and testing for safety and efficacy.

Via: Edinburgh News