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New Ink Jet Printer that Can Create Human Organs

Back in 2008, there was a Japanese scientist that began investigating a new technology. Makoto Nakamura had an idea to turn an ink jet printer into a 3-D capable printer that would use human cells versus ink. These printers would be able to create a human organ that could be used for the purposes of transplants. This fledgling technology was expected to be able to print and grow an organ in a couple years from the cells of the patient. This would reduce the chances of a rejection of the tissue. That idea has been expounded upon by quite a bit by a San Diego and Melbourne based medical supply company. Organovo has adapted this design and expects to ship these $200,000 printers to several test hospitals later this year.

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The basis for this technology is something that comes straight from science fiction. Basically, the printer will use a special “paper” on which the cells will be sprayed and cultivated. This will then be incubated for several weeks as it solidifies and stabilizes enough to begin functioning. This organ can then be immediately transplanted into the patient. By using their cells, it is essentially the same organ that has been removed, only without the problem that caused the transplant. This will drastically reduce the number of complications from this type of surgery, as well as increase the healing time. The body will not notice the change and it should all go fluidly. The only problem will be knowing when the organ is “ripe” enough to make the function and become functional. There is still a lot of testing that needs to go on with this, but that is already beginning.

Having a printer that can create organs is a huge step in the medical field. Not only will this create a viable solution to the organ shortage, but it can also drastically reduce the cost of such operations. As this technology develops and leaves the infancy stages, things will begin to reduce in cost and the efficiency will greatly increase. This means that organs will be reliably created in lab without the need of cloning or other morally questionable methods. This method is also much faster than the current growing process that is being incorporated at institutes such as Wake Forest and Bethesda. I just wonder how long it will take for Kinko’s to buy a couple of these. Just think, you could get a new liver when you go to print out your new business adds.

Sources:

Organovo – News

New Heart From Ink Jet Printer?

Inkjet Printing to Replace Organ Donation?