3D printed organoids made from human tissue are already a reality, and are currently being used in medical testing.
The process of 3D printing organs involves 3D bio-printers and bio-ink.
The medically designed printers contain computer-guided pipettes which can create human tissue by printing layers of bio-ink, a substance usually made from stem cells, on top of one another. Eventually, a range of tissues can be printed together to form an organ.
This technology is advancing so rapidly that 3D printed organs for use in human transplantations could be a reality sooner than we think.
> “We are actually planning to be able to 3D bio-print an organ in 2019. It will be a human heart, made out of human heart cells, but it will only be the size of a mouse heart and not viable for transplantation.“
Perhaps one of the biggest drawbacks of the current 3D bio-printing technologies is that the tissues being printed can only form organoids which are smaller and simplified versions of organs.
Carmat, the company working to create the world’s most advanced total artificial heart to treat biventricular heart failure, has used 3D printed tissues to partially reconstruct the hearts of 11 patients so far. These hearts need to be powered outside of the body.
The results are looking positive so far though as patients with these partial transplants have all survived over the 18th month period.
BIOLIFE4D’s Morris seems positive that his company will be printing full scale models of human hearts sooner rather than later.
> “We are still at least a few years away from being able to scale the bioengineered heart to the size of a human heart, and there are many challenges we will face along the way.“
> “We are totally dedicated, however, to bringing this incredible technology to the market in the absolute shortest time possible as we know the profound impact it could have.“
> “With nearly 1 in every 3 people, in every developed nation around the world, dying as a result of cardiovascular disease and only about 5,000-6,000 donor heart transplants occurring globally each year, we know how many lives could be saved each year once this technology can be deployed.”