Printers to aid transplants..

Posted by Tandarin Nike Saturday, December 26, 2009 3:13 AM
We are nearly there. The good old printer technology can create items in 3D mode. And the best part is that the medical world has taken notice now.

Soon the world may see a technology that enables the 'printing' of artificial blood vessels for transplant. A San Diego company has been working on developing this technology with the initial goal being to, create an arterial graft for use in coronary bypass surgery.
"The long-term goal is to solve problems in medical therapy that can't be solved otherwise, especially in organ transplants, where tens of thousands of people are waiting for donated organs," said Keith Murphy, CEO of Organovo. Invetech, a design and contract manufacturing firm, built Orgonovo's first 3D medical printer, in conjunction wi th Organovo.

"Building human organs cell-by-cell was considered science fiction not that long ago," said Fred Davis, President of Invetech, in a statement. "Through this clever combination of technology and science we have helped Organovo develop an instrument that will improve people's lives, making the regenerative medicine that Organovo provides accessible to people around the world."

Murphy added, "Scientists and engineers can use the 3D bio printers to enable placing cells of almost any type into a desired pattern in 3D. Researchers can place liver cells on a preformed scaffold, support kidney cells with a co-printed scaffold, or form adjacent layers of epithelial and stromal soft tissue that grow into a mature tooth. Ultimately the idea would be for surgeons to have tissue-on-demand for various uses, and the best way to do that is get a number of bio-printers into the hands of researchers and give them the ability to make three dimensional tissues on demand."

The technology involves using a robot to lay down cells in precise positions in three dimensions, accurate to within 20 microns. "It's similar to the way a laser printer prints by putting solid particles in place," Murphy told InformationWeek. The 3D medical printer puts down objects on 2D layers, one on top of the other. The particles used in the construction are made up of stem cells, formed into tiny spheres and cylinders.

The stem cells are available for research purposes from companies including Life Technologies and Invitrogen. When the device is used for treatment, cells will come from the patient's bone marrow, or fatty adipose tissues, where stem cells can be harvested.

One thing is for sure. This technology as well as other new uses to technology will surface within the next decade or so which will considerably improve the quality of life for very sick people today. The only thing
to do is to survive till then.

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