3D Printed Organs: When will they become available? How close are we?

We live in an ever-evolving world. One day you hear of a small disturbance, the other day they confirm that it was solved and hence you no longer need to worry about it. One of the major issues that was faced by a certain amount of people is organ failure. while organ transplants have been proven very successful; a new technology is now foreseen. The world of science and medicine is talking about 3D Printed Organs. If scientists were able to print organs, such an organ would become accessible to everyone in need.

But, how psychologically acceptable would be to have a printer that prints-in 3D organs that end up inside our human body. Such an advancement in medical studies can be used to save people’s lives! The best resolution to take every year is to live a healthy and well lifestyle.

3D Printed Organs: what organs are printed?

There are many organs that are being targeted for 3D printing. These include the following:

1- Outer Ear

2- Blood vessels

3- Skin Cells to cover wounds (multilayered skin)

4- A full human liver

5- Bones

6- Tracheal splints

7- Heart tissues

8- Cartilaginous structures

So far, experiments went very well and these human tissues and organs can be used to test the effectiveness of medicines and treatments instead of getting them tested on animals or speculate their effect on human beings/patients.

“The next step would be to keep working on this technique in order to make these organs transplantable into human bodies” that was the claim of the 2016 scientist. Since then, a lot of things changed. So, what happened with the 3D printing?

3D Printed Organs: How does it work?

When you are trying to 3D print an organ, you will be explaining to the computer how to layer every single layer of stem cells. You will be trying to work it out one layer at a time, molded altogether to create the end product. This is exactly how that small organ is created. The small organs, called organoids, will then be placed in the body of a person who is ill and will be able to grow enoug to be able to take charge of the failed organ’s functions.

For example, those who have heavy skin burns at certain locations can benefit from 3D printing. Forget about skin grafts that can be painful or hydrotherapy that can be very limited; the 3D printing technique can recreate skin. In the lab, scientists were able to print out 100cm2 in only half an hour of time using human plasma and skin components taken out of skin samples. This is one bg revolution for people who experience burns.

3D Printed Organs: The 2018 breakthrough and liver success

Far from being a part of a science fiction movie, 3D printing has been worked on for a couple of years now. This new innovative idea in the world of regenerative medicine is holding new promises. Year 2018 witnessed a big success for printed organs; and the first success is a printed liver!

The biodprinting process that was deveoped in San Diego by a company called Organovo has been using people’s cells as the ink of their organ printer. This revolution would firstly be used to start testing drugs, which will replace animal testing. In 2017, the San Diego company explained that the USA FDA allowed the testing of a certain drug on a 3D printed liver. The company explains that while results are very promising, a challenge to growing these small organs is still existing.

Here is how the process works:

Step 1: Cells are collected from an individual; then, they are placed in a petri dish that will allow them to multiply.

Step 2: These multiplied cells will be loaded into specific bioprinters. Each group of cells in a different container.

Step 3: The layering process starts using hydrogel.

Step 4: These layered cells will start growing to become a mature tissue, ready for use.

The printing of organs is now focused on stem cells. These cells are derived from the human body itself; and hence, are recognized by the body. When you transplant an organ, the body normally rejects the new organ. As a result, people are given immunosuppressants. If the organ is printed using stem cells, the patient will not have to take such medications.

At the University of Edinburgh, Professor David Hay led a successful project since 2014 where they ended up developing liver cells that stayed alive for more than a year. Now, they are focusing on knowing how they would transplant such a tissue, as well as developing a tissue that would be more viable.

With the dedication shown by scientists all over the world, this idea will end up changing the world!

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