Don’t transplant organs, 3D print them with living cells

This isn’t a new video, but someone sent it to me today because they saw the BBC pop it up on their site this weekend. It’s one of the most inspiring videos you can on the subject of how 3D printing is going to change the medical world. This video was released before this website went live, so we hadn’t ever published it. But it’s so good, and so few have likely seen it, that it’s going up today.

This TedTalk from March 2011 is delivered by Surgeon Anthony Atala, director of the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine, who demonstrates how 3D printers can someday help to solve the organ donor problem the world faces.

The 3D printers Atala and his talented team are experimenting with are not printing robotic, artificial organs–they are printing real organs with living cells. In fact, this team engineered the first lab-grown organ to be implanted into a human — a bladder, with excellent success which they are repeating again and again.

In this presentation, Dr. Atala walks the audience through the various steps they’ve made in developing the technology and what the future holds. Near the end of the video, a young patient named Luke Massella, who received an engineered bladder from the surgeon ten years ago, comes on stage for an emotional moment.

Unfortunately, the 3D organ printing is still experimental and won’t be leaving the lab for years. But with pioneers like Anthony Atala and the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine, and companies like Organovo (ONVO) working on similar technologies, we can start to see how it won’t be long (in FDA years) before we will be able to print new, living organs rather than transplant them.

h/t: BBC

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