3D printing of real human tissue

3D printing of real human tissue

Summary: We may only be a decade or so away from the ability to print actual human organs.

TOPICS: Health

There has been a burgeoning sense of excitement over the past few years about 3D printing. Printing an object as you would a document, albeit slowly, layer-by-layer, has been used to prototype products for awhile now, and 3D printing is entering the consumer marketplace quickly.

With the opening of MakerBot's new brick-and-mortar retail store in NYC, day-to-day use of 3D printing is starting to seem much more grounded in reality -- especially since you can own an actual desktop 3D printer for only a couple grand.

There are also promising applications of 3D Printing for medical treatment. 3D printing technology has already been used to make surgical models, prosthetic limbs, dentures, and hearing aids. Recently, researchers at companies like Organovo have had some sucess with printing actual functional human tissue for use in medical research and regenerative therapies.

We may only be a decade or so away from the ability to print actual human organs, which could possibly be made from cultures of a patient's own tissue. This would be wonderful, because if a patient's own cells can be used to make the replacement organ, it ought to really cut down on organ rejection, and hopefully also cut down on the need for expensive and debilitating anti-rejection drugs.

Type "Bioprinting" into the YouTube search box and you'll be amazed. Prepare to lose an hour or two of your day. Or simply take five minutes to check out a great quick explanation and graphical representation of the technological possibilities in this entertaining YouTube video.

Topic: Health


Denise Amrich is a Registered Nurse, the health care advisor for the U.S. Strategic Perspective Institute, and a mentor for the Virtual Campus at Florida's Brevard Community College.

Nothing in this article is meant to be a substitute for medical advice, and shouldn't be considered as such. If you are in need of medical help, please see your doctor.

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • Result

    1. Exciting, advanced scientific discovery that will revolutionize XYZ.

    2. Mostly used to print bigger genitals. :/
    Han CNX
  • Hey, I wanted to be first with a genital joke!

    No fair.
  • This could be very good news...

    If you've ever known someone that had to take anti-rejection medication, or spend years
    on a waiting list for an organ, then you would understand just how this technology could
    change present treatment modalities. The only caveat with this technology would be the
    cost, hopefully it won't be out of reach for average patients.
    ZDNet Moderator