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Bioprinting of Human Organs

Credit: Ugreen/iStockphoto

Credit: Ugreen/iStockphoto

By Luiz E. Bertassoni

While bioprinting of living tissue has been possible for some time, the creation of functional organs has been limited by the ability to vascularise these tissues – until now.

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.

Imagine walking into a hospital and asking your doctor: “Could you please print me a new liver?” It may sound like science fiction, but this is essentially the objective of our work. And every day we are closer to bringing it into reality. For instance, we have developed a way of printing out a network of blood vessels that could support the growth and maintenance of such an organ.

Patients around the world are placed on long organ transplant lists to have another chance in life. In the US alone a new name is added to the national transplant waiting list every 12 minutes.

Hence there is a tremendous need to develop technologies that will allow parts of human tissues to be created in the lab. But how could we fabricate human organs from scratch to alleviate such high demand? 3D printing of living cells may be the answer.

The basic idea is that if we are able to keep cells alive outside of the body for long enough, and can manipulate how they behave and are arranged in three-dimensions, we should be able to control how these cells mature to form living organs.

How does that translate into a health care solution? If we are able to create functional organs in the lab, we may not need to wait until one patient dies to have an organ available for transplantation.

Difficulties in Fabricating Organs

The difficulties in creating parts...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.