3D Printed Organs With 3D Printing
When 3D printing was first released to the mass market it wasn’t soon after that the medical world wanted to take advantage of the printer’s diverse capabilities. Researchers in the medical field have begun exploring all the possibilities for this machine and the most promising medical application for 3D printers happens to be artificial organs. Scientists and doctors are looking at this type of printing as a solution to the organ shortage for transplants that is plaguing the United States of America and the rest of the World.
On average the wait time for a kidney is typically two-and-a-half years and as an effect of this the patient may have already been pronounced dead by the time they would’ve received the organ. Obviously this is a huge issue and the medical field is desperate for alternatives to real organs as too many people are dying to something that could be prevented and most likely will because of 3D printing. The projected time for an artificial organ transplant would be drastically less because the organ would most likely be on standby because the artificial organs won’t have an ‘expiration date’ unlike real organs. This is way better compared to the regular transplant list because patients would have to wait less time to receive an organ designed for them. The only limiting factor of this process is the number of surgeons available in hospitals to perform the operation. The word known for 3D printing organs is bioprinting.
Bioprinting is an extension of traditional 3D printing. Bioprinting can produce bone, living tissue, blood vessels and, potentially, whole organs for use in medical procedures, training and testing. This method includes the use of cells when printing a new organ and it’s also the method used for getting the organs to function. At the moment with the current research and technology bioprinting may take up to eight weeks as it’s a complicated process. But with more scientists and researchers looking into it the process may be drastically shorter in the future. At first, researchers scan the patients organ to determine the personalized size and shape. Then they create a scaffold to give cells something to grow on in three dimensions and then add cells from the patient to this scaffold. That is the part of the work that is difficult and most time consuming. In order to make the organs they tell a computer the size and shape they need using x, y, and z coordinates.
With this process scientists can make organs or other parts of the body for just about anything or anyone no matter the size. This new method allows scientist to place cells in a very precise way using the printer. Even though there have been successful studies and lots of research being done, bioprinting is still something that requires more research and studies to be done for it to be possible. The bioprinting technology needs to be improved. The resolution and speed of the printers need to be increased as well as being more compatible with biocompatible materials. Higher resolution will enable the printer to be more accurate when printing as wells as the scientists, this may also allow for better control. The increase in speed of the printers will allow for patients to receive they’re custom made organ a lot quicker than it would be if scientists tried bioprinting now. Another issue is we don’t have access to many biocompatible solutions that work with the bioprinters at the moment, but that may change later on.
The most promising advancements in this field of complex technology has been done by companies like Cellink who are developing many bioprinters and bioinks. The bioinks are very complicated and allow the construction of skin, cartilage, muscle, and bone. There are also more mobile options such as the biopen, a mobile bioprinter which allows the user to actually draw new cells capable of repairing bones and cartilage. The biopen was developed by Australian surgeons to make bone repair easier and quicker. As you can see now this new type of regenerative medicine is making major bounds in the medical field because of 3D printings capabilities. These two examples truly exhibit the variety of devices that can be created for 3D printing. The company Organovo has successfully made liver tissue but still has lots to learn on making full functions livers. The company is headed in the right direction but there is much to learn on how to print these organs. Some of the organs in the body have over 500 different functions that they can perform.
That is why it is so difficult to create the organs using 3D printers, because they need to make sure the organs can perform all the functions. They also need to get the cells to work with the biocompatible solutions. Another incredible business is named Poietus, a French biotechnology company that completely specializes in regenerative medicines. Poietis aims to commercialize their new product named poieskin, a 3D printed skin. Poietis is the very first company to ever commercialize a 3D printed skin. The bioprinted skin can be used for ingredient testing, developing brand new drugs, and research to further the science world’s understanding of the largest organ humans have. At the company CELLINK, staff are developing 3D bioinks (material used to print) that contain human cells.They are ultimately looking to make organs. More than 100,000 people in the United States need an organ replacement, but there is a critical shortage. If the company can successfully create bioinks that are capable to print with and actually work, the thousands of people that need organs can receive one.
The research that they’re doing allows them to create almost anything required in the human body. They are hiring experts in biomaterials, chemistry, cell biology, software and robotic engineering to help them with the project. Once they create a bioink the company has already signed contracts with over 40 business to help start creating and distributing organs. When doing a normal transplant the patient needs to find a organ match in order for the body to have a less chance of rejection. There is still a chance of rejections however. When using printers to create organs there is a less chance of rejection. To create these organs, the researchers used a small biopsy of fatty tissue from the patient. They then separated the pluripotent stem cells from any a-cellular materials in the tissue. From there, they gained the ability to create whatever type of tissue they needed. But there are also other factors that they need to consider.
If the patient starts getting an infection from the surgery or new organ they may die. Scientist need to make sure they can eliminate the chance of infection as well as rejections. Doctors and scientist also need to make sure the patient receiving the organ is healthy besides the organ they need so that nothing else may risk the procedure. This revolutionary advancement could be applied to several areas of medicine and pharmacology, including being the basis of replacement organs for transplantation, and also drug discovery and toxicology testing. It has been predicted that 3D printing, in general, will grow at an exponential rate (approx. $10 billion by 2020); the 3D printing market is already estimated to be at $500 million. The problem of organ failure and transplantation needs to be addressed to avert a healthcare crisis, and in this speedy new and improved technique, this may finally be a solution.