The concept and technology for 3-D printing has been around for nearly 20 years and grown into a $2.7 billion dollar industry. This type of printing is how many items get fabricated, such as food, toys, watches, and television parts. Scientists are trying to take this technological know-how into the world of biology and medicine. 3D printing organs is now on the list too. What they have learnt so far is that the fabrication of inanimate objects is easier than living body parts.
The ability to create organs with 3D printing programs and living cells could change the scope of surgery.
Not to mention the lives of the many on the long waiting lists for donated organs. The problem is that even the simplest human organs are structurally complex. The variety of cell types and vascular structures are too complicated for current biological CAD programs to replicate.
Organovo is now able to use 3D printing technology to create basic liver tissue, but there is a long road ahead to developing a program that will help build a complete functioning liver. No existing CAD program can blueprint the over 500 different functions that this organ performs. They are on the right track, but there need to be even bigger advances in regenerative medicine and 3D printing technology to see expanded attempts at the replication of organs.
The jump from 3D printing non-living objects to living tissue successfully is the leap that makes organ creation a possibility for the near future. Perfectly fabricating organs mean fewer chances of failure or rejection. 3-D bioprinting is one of the most innovative changes to appear on the medical horizon for the past few decades. Organovo has amassed millions of dollars in equity to pursue this project. Their continued CAD program improvements should light the way for the advances needed to make a complete functional organ for human transplant. It offers a second chance at a full, robust life for people that wait fruitlessly for traditional transplants.