A big idea that is going around regenerative medicine circles now with the 3-D Printers that have been coming out is the idea of printing one’s own organs and body parts for use in transplantation.
The idea of bioprinting and electrospinning has been getting bigger and bigger in the last 2 years. What I am proposing in the year 2013 is that one day within the next 30 years we will be able to take a small cartilage or pluripotent stem cell sample from a person and be able to completely create a good sized growth plate completely regenerated for a person ready to be implanted.
This would result in people being able to choose to regrow again making them taller and taller.
When I typed in the phrase “Bioprinting” into Google the first result they gave me was of a company named Organovo, which has a tagline of “CHANGING THE SHAPE OF MEDICAL RESEARCH AND PRACTICE”. From their front page…
Organovo creates living, three-dimensional human tissue models for research and therapeutic applications
The flexibility of our bioprinting technology, which marries biology and engineering, and its proven application across a wide variety of cells, allows us to target many different tissues for development of human tissue models.
We are currently building a number of 3D tissue models for research and drug discovery applications, and well as working to fulfill our vision of building human tissues for surgical therapy and transplantation.
Under the Therapeutic Tissues section…
3D Human Therapeutic Tissues – At Organovo, we believe that engineered tissues will someday be a routine source of therapy for patients with damaged or diseased tissue.
Changing the Shape of Medical Practice – Organovo is working to fulfill the vision of building human tissues for advanced surgical therapy and transplantation.
Today, we are working, both internally and with select partners, to fulfill our vision of building human tissues for surgical therapy and transplantation. The flexibility of our tissue engineering technology, and its proven application across a wide variety of cells, allows us to target many different tissues. The cell source can be either allogenic or autologous (using the patient’s own cells), which could allow us to avoid transplant rejection and the need for life-long immunosuppresant drugs.
Significant science and discovery is required to develop a tissue therapy, ensure safety and efficacy through controlled clinical trials, and gain regulatory clearance as a medical device. Supplemental tissue therapies that could come in forms of tubes, patches, or organoids are a developmental possibility today. Larger replacement tissues remains a future goal; however, the insight gained through the development of supplemental tissue therapies can serve as key guideposts for the ultimate development of functional organ replacements.
The promise for tissue therapies that cure disease, with reduced risk of immune rejection, made on demand from cellular building blocks rather than waiting for a limited supply of donor tissues, is a vision we are passionate in pursuing.
I showed in a recent post that university researchers have been able to grow a growing bone with it’s epiphyseal growth plate cartilage being completely functional. This shows that by combining the fields of stem cell therapy and tissue engineering, the growth plate can be regrown using the initial stem cells, an external growth factor stimuli, and a scaffold to hold the two main parts in place ready for implantation. This company Organovo has the potential to make a real big change in the way physicians and surgeons have been practicing medicine.
Just like how the inventor Eli Whitney managed to create the idea of Interchangeable parts for machines and guns leading to the revolution of factories, specialization, systems, automation, and mass production of everything becoming one of the main causes of the Industrial Revolution, this new technology of being able to print in 3-D the tissue and organs we will need means that maybe one day humans will be looked as less as a single entitle but as a combination of organ systems which can be kept alive by just replacing the parts that go bad, old, or not working.
From the section on Bioprinted Human Tissue…
Organovo’s proprietary bioprinting platform captures the unique synergistic potential of engineering and biology to enable the reproducible, automated creation of living human tissues that mimic the form and function of native tissues in the body. Our 3D bioprinted human tissues are constructed with precision from tiny building blocks made of living human cells, using a processthat translates tissue-specific geometries and cellular components into 3D designs that can be executed by an Organovo NovoGen Bioprinter™. Once built, the bioprinted tissues share many key features with native tissue, including tissue-like cellular density, presence of multiple cell types, and the development of key architectural and functional features associated with the target native tissue.
Organovo’s 3D human tissues offer many advantages over standard cell-culture platforms due to the fact that three-dimensionality is achieved without dependence on biomaterial or scaffold components that would not be found in native tissues.
We are not immortals and we are not superheros like Superman and Wolverine. Gods have bodies that don’t age or get ill. Superman has the power to be invulnerable against everything except Kyptonite. Wolverine can be hurt and injured but his body has insane cells which can heal any wound within minutes, if not seconds. Maybe one day we can develop soem type of technology, where all we have to do is take a gun with some medical light and shine it on a part of our body to solve all medical problems. Before that can come to be, the next best thing is the idea of having the ability to grow our own body parts, for fast surgery transplantations? Need a new liver, kidney, or pancreas? Let’s grow that for you in the lab?
For our situation, we don’t have any more growth plates so what do we do? We extract a little bit of cartilage and chondrocytes, and grow them into adult sized growth plate cartilages and transplant them into the leg. That means that we can start the longitudinal growth of the bones again.
Here is a video below of one of the founders of the company Gabor Forgacs who is giving a TEDTalk about his company’s technology.
For a better read on the subject of bioprinting refer to the article from a website called Explaining The Future
I would also like to the refer the reader who is mainly interested in using this technology for the cosmetic reason of potentially increasing their height this picture I found from another source/ article talking about the exploding, new hot biomedical field of 3-D Bioprinting research. Refer to the picture below. Notice that the picture on the researchers from Wake Forest University shows that they have been able to recreate the outer ear. That is cartilage. This shows that scientists have already been able to create cartilage nearly from scratch by using the bioprinting machines.