A little while ago, we wrote a blog about the advances Medicine was making with the use of 3D Printers. The use of these devices seem boundless. From the custom order of prosthetics to micro-organs!
You heard right, doctors are now using 3D printers in a new technique that could allow them to eventually print organs for transplant patients. Over the last decade, the use of embryonic stem cells has been quite the scandalous topic. But, the use of these cells has made possible some pretty huge leaps in medical technology and medicine because of their regenerative properties and ability to develop into any kind of organ.
Beforehand, 3D printers were only able to create small mounds or flat arrays of cells. This made it hard for the developing cells to develop and grow. Now, researchers have created a way for 3D Printers to lay down layers of embryonic stem cells to create a 3D object. In theory, these layers would be able to be used to create living tissue, and potentially even micro-organs.
Tests have been very successful with nearly ninety percent of cells surviving the printing process and generating the kind of proteins that would be expected from healthy embryonic stem cells. Researchers were also able to successfully break down the hydrogel 3D structure in order to harvest said embryonic cells for future use.
In the US alone, more than 123,000 men, women, and children currently need lifesaving organ transplants. Even with the advancement of medicine over the last decade and donation, the demand for organ, eye and tissue donation still vastly exceeds the number of donors. With the development of this new technique, the possibilities are endless. The ability to create an organ, in itself is something right out of science fiction. But with the development of organs from scratch, there is also the decrease in the chance that an organ will reject its recipient.
3D printing is taking the medical field by storm, one could only hope that developments like these only continue to advance the medical field for generations to come.