Imagine a world where children with heart problems, terminal cancer patients, accident victims, or really anybody else with organ illness had a chance to quickly replace their failing organs with a low cost copy, made with their own cells. In a new press release by Carnegie Melon University, researchers may be announcing the early stages of exactly that.
An Open Sourced Innovation
Through the use of open source software and consumer model 3D printers (both saving the mega costs usually associated with health care advances) the engineers at CMU have found a dramatic improvement in our ability to print low-cost organs that could soon be used in human transplants.
The “organs” are currently soft-gel models that may be thought of as something similar to scaffolding for human cells. By constructing the frame for organ cells to be injected into, the researchers provide an environment for a functional organ to quickly grow.
Conceptually, this technique is a few years old and similar printing has already been done on sturdier tissues. However, up until now soft tissues have been problematic. By building the organ within a soft gel housing, scientists can now prevent the organ from collapsing during printing under its own weight.