Not more than 10 or 15 years ago, we would have not thought of having this kind of photo-printing technology that can print the Human Organs.

Now we one day be able to print anything and everything we need. 3D printers have been used in architectural schools for quite some time already (and self-replicating home models are becoming more and more common), a 3D food printer is under development, and now several sources are working on 3D bio-printers: machines that will “print” organs so patients will no longer have to wait for transplant donations. Recently, the first commercial organ printer was built by biomedical company Invetech and delivered to Organovo, a company that has pioneered the Bioprinting technology.

 The printer is already capable of producing arteries, which doctors will be able to use in bypass surgeries in as little as five years. Other, more complex body parts should be possible within ten years: bones and hearts, for example. The printer works by using two print heads. One lays down a scaffold and the other places human cells into the shape of whatever organ is being formed. There’s little threat of the new organ being rejected since it’s made of the patient’s own cells. The machines could represent a breakthrough in medicine, since the wait time for new organs would be significantly shortened and the risk of organ rejection nearly eliminated. Organovo plans to distribute several of the machines to research facilities to encourage further development of the printing technology.


Grow your own

Scientists have fashioned lab-grown organs from all three of these categories. Surgeons have implanted artificial skin and cartilage into thousands of patients. Synthetic windpipes are now a reality. Artificial blood vessels are going through clinical trials for patients on dialysis and children with congenital heart problems. One Scientist  himself has transplanted lab-grown bladders into several patients, the first of whom has now been living with her new organ for over a decade.

It is the fourth level that presents the greatest challenge: the solid organs like the kidneys, heart, lungs and liver. They are thicker than most of the others, and each has a complicated architecture, featuring many different types of cells and an extensive network of blood vessels to provide them with oxygen and nutrients. Incorporating these vessels into growing organs, especially at the microscopic scale required, is a particularly vexing problem. Without cracking it, lab-grown organs will always stay small and simple.

 Once you have the cells, you need to steer the way they grow and specialise. That means getting the right balance of temperature, pH, hormones, and more. It also means exposing growing tissues to the forces they would normally experience inside the body. Engineered arteries need to experience pulses of pressure that simulate the blood that normally pumps through them. Engineered muscle needs to be stretched. Engineered lungs need to feel a regular flow of air. “Every cell has the right genetic information to create the organ. You just need to put them in the right environment,” says Atala a Scientist.

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Manohar. M