credit: Stew Dean
This may sound like science fiction, but in fact this process has already achieved the printing of cells, veins and tissues and is constantly working towards the ultimate goal of being able to print lungs, hearts and other vital organs.
Already the bioprinting process is able to print tissues. This means that in the near future patients requiring skin grafts will be able to have a graft without removing skin from elsewhere on their bodies.
The printing process will be quick, so by the time you arrive in hospital for your graft, the skin will be ready and waiting. This will be a welcome relief to the thousands of burn sufferers around the world who have to go through skin grafts to repair serious burn injuries.
Drug development costs thousands each year, one drug can take years to develop and that needs funding. Now researchers will be able to test their drugs on real tissue rather than anticipating the results in humans from the early stages, this will speed up the development process and cost less in the long run as the development stages of any drug can be sped up. The tissues can be injected with a choice of diseases, enabling researchers to work with human tissue to find the result they are looking for.
Sporting enthusiasts will be able to enjoy cartilage repair. This is a problem that many sports enthusiasts face on a regular basis; it’s a painful and persistent problem that often can only be repaired by removing the cartilage. In the future the cartilage will be able to be repaired or replaced with a bioprinted cartilage, enabling these sportsmen to continue with the sport they enjoy without the pain.
While still a fair way off, this 3D printing is hopefully going to be able to print human organs, organs that work such as lungs and hearts. Can you imagine the improvements this will make if a heart only takes around two weeks to develop? It will dramatically reduce the amount of people on donor waiting lists and speed up the lists with patients only having to wait weeks for a donor organ rather than years or in some cases, never receiving one at all.
Who knows maybe one day the printer will print complete limbs, reducing the amount of aesthetics. People injured that have to have any limbs removed will be able to have replacements within a few weeks.
If this technology continues to grow at the rate it is currently growing, organs and limbs being printed by a machine and saving lives isn’t as farfetched as it seemed only a few years ago.
Check out this incredible infographic from PrinterInks to find out more about how bioprinting works.
Thanks to PrinterInks.com for this insight on the ins and outs of bioprinting.