3D bioprinting is an emerging technology in the field of medical science. Aside from creating 3D replica of the organs of the body, 3D printing can also be used to help end donor organ shortage. Researchers are now working on using 3D printing to fabricate different organs like the heart, kidneys and other important human organs.
Researchers from the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine led by Dr. Anthony Atala are now working on 3D bioprinting to end donor organ shortage. The goal of the research is to engineer organs by using the patient’s own cells thus preventing any issues in relation with organ rejection. Currently, the researchers were able to successfully develop bladders, skin, cartilage and urine tubes.
To create the organs, the cells are mixed with liquid material that also provides oxygen as well as nutrients to keep the cells alive. This mixture is then placed inside a specialized 3D bioprinter cartridge. The 3D bioprinted organ is then built using a computer software with the medical scans of the patient. This is to ensure that the new organ is as similar as the patient’s real organ in both physiological and anatomical aspects.
This technology is very promising and while the researchers were successful in printing common organs like the skin, complex organs such as liver and pancreas are still very difficult to create. Currently, researchers are still exploring a variety of options to make the cells more viable. Nevertheless, once this technology is perfected, it can end the problem of donor organ shortage.