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Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Kinko's for Kidneys: 3D Printing Your Own Body Parts

by Lloyd Alter, Toronto

3d printing bioprinter photo

3D printing to order is a regular subject on TreeHugger; we love the idea of making things when you need them, where you need them. And soon you will be able to order up body parts, at a sort of Ponoko for pancreas. Now people sit on waiting lists, hooked up to expensive equipment while they wait for donors and fly body parts all over the world; soon you will order them up fresh and hot. Perhaps, like Philip K. Dick did, we might even call them artif-orgs.

Printing kidneys

Organovo is trying to build "tissue on demand", building 3D printers that work with living cells.

"By marrying a knowledge of biophysics and cell biology with the precision of computer aided design and high precision deposition, we can recreate the microarchitecture of even the most complex human tissue. By precisely placing cells with an organ printer, and providing them with the proper natural developmental cues, the cells do exactly what they do in nature: they self assemble into fully formed, functional tissue."

They have just taken delivery of their first commercial printers from Australian manufacturer Invetech.

Ken Murphy, President of Organovo said in a press release:

"Scientists and engineers can use the 3D bio printers to enable placing cells of almost any type into a desired pattern in 3D," said Murphy. "Researchers can place liver cells on a preformed scaffold, support kidney cells with a co-printed scaffold, or form adjacent layers of epithelial and stromal soft tissue that grow into a mature tooth. Ultimately the idea would be for surgeons to have tissue on demand for various uses, and the best way to do that is get a number of bio-printers into the hands of researchers and give them the ability to make three dimensional tissues on demand."

So instead of having to find kidney or liver donors, doctors could grow new ones from a patient's own cells, solving the donor supply and rejection problems. Via Next Big Future

The future of 3D printing? from On Art and Science: Bioprinting & Pygmalion's Dream? Vladimir Mironov MD, PhD