Monday, 20 July 2015

Can you 3D-print organs?

As a researcher in bioprinting (3D printing using living cells) one question I’m regularly asked is “Can you print organs?”

It’s a question that grabs people because, when we can print organs, there will be no such thing an organ donor list. Instead of waiting for a transplant, the patient will provide a small sample of cells and the hospital staff (not doctors or nurses, but a new breed of ‘biomedical engineers’) will grow up the cells to a large quantity, feed it into a bioprinter and print out a replacement organ. Because the organ will be made of the patient’s own cells, there will be no fear of rejection, and no need for immunosuppressant drugs. The whole procedure will take place in a matter of weeks.

Yeah but CAN you 3D print-organs?