Organ Printing

The process of engineering tissues is advancing to the point where researchers actually consider such possibilities as organ printing. The formation of organs proceeds, at least in principle, on the formation of tubes, which then fuse after incubation in a bioreactor. It was described this way in Wired.Of course, organ complexity in terms of differentiated morphogenic function, shape, etc., will complicate the ability to produce organs that can even be considered for clinical trial. Hence, exceedingly optimistic assessments of when organ printing may reach trials are at least five years away (ten years is probably pushing it).

However, the ability to form the simple structures like sheets in bioengineered skin grafts or fill voids for regeneration of bone through extracellular matrices is already an established skill (see Tissue Engineering, Cell Therapy & Transplantation).

There are many, many questions to be answered, and many hurdles crossed, before bioartificial organs can be produced at the push of a button, but the possibility of success is just the sort of stimulant that feeds entrepreneurs (and drains VCs).

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