Skip to comments.Dr. Campbell: Printing 3D organs for transplant
Posted on 05/22/2014 1:52:01 AM PDT by 2ndDivisionVet
RALEIGH, N.C. - The emerging process of 3D printing, which uses computer-created digital models to create real-world objects, has produced everything from toys to jewelry to food. Soon, however, 3D printers may be spitting out something far more complex, and controversial: human organs.
Researchers are working diligently to create human organs and body parts through the use of a 3D printer. The 3D printer works in much the same way an inkjet printer does - with a needle that squirts material in a predetermined pattern. Instead of ink, the printer uses cells or human tissue. The cells would be purified in a machine and then printing would begin in sections using a computer model to build the heart layer by layer.
Bioprinting works like this: scientists harvest human cells from biopsies or stem cells, then allow them to multiply in a petri dish. The resulting mixture, a sort of biological ink, is fed into a 3D printer, which is programmed to arrange different cell types, along with other materials, into a precise three-dimensional shape.
Doctors hope that when placed in the body, these 3D-printed cells will integrate with existing tissues.
For years, researchers have been printing skin, blood vessels, and other biologic structures. Now, efforts are underway to construct complete organs - this is much more difficult to do. Last year a 2-year-old girl in Illinois, born without a trachea, received a windpipe built with her own stem cells.
At the University of Louisville researchers are making progress - although it may be years before the first 3D printed organ is transplanted into a human.
So far, the University of Louisville team has printed human heart valves and small veins with cells, and they can construct some other parts with other methods.
Ultimately, we are probably five years away from actually being able to transplant a human heart that has been printed in this way.
An organ built from a patient's cells could solve the rejection problem some patients have with donor organs or an artificial heart, and it could eliminate the need for anti-rejection drugs
It is many researchers hope that 3D printers could someday produce much-needed organs for transplants. Americans are living longer, and as we get deeper into old age our organs are failing more. Some 18 people die in the United States each day waiting in vain for transplants because of a shortage of donated organs.
Approximately 3,000 people in the United States are on the waiting list for a heart transplant on any given day. About 2,000 donor hearts are available each year. Wait times vary from days to several months and will depend on a recipient's blood type and condition.
But plenty of difficulties remain, including understanding how to keep manufactured tissue alive after it is printed. With complex organs such as the kidney and heart, a major challenge is being able to provide the structure with enough oxygen to survive until it can integrate with the body.
The first patients would most likely be those with failing hearts who are not candidates for artificial hearts, including children whose chests are too small to for an artificial heart.
To get in touch with Dr. Campbell, you can head to his website, Facebook page or message him on Twitter.
I have to say, I hold great hope for this technology.
I wrote on the back of my driver’s license that I am not an organ donor. I will never have myself placed on a wait list for an organ. To me, it is hugely immoral to actively hope that someone who is alive and healthy right now will die so that I can get their organs. It is as if other people are nothing but walking organ farms waiting to be harvested.
I doubt people who need transplants are hoping for someone’s death, but death is inevitably going to happen.
I have been wrestling with this issue for sometime, thinking that maybe I was being a horrible person, because I can't be overjoyed when friends spend a million dollars, and years of anti-everything drugs. The 3-D printer using your OWN stem cells is a different story and very interesting.
unfortunately, this is no covered by Obamacare unless you have donated at least $10,000 to the correct politician on the list.
Color me intensely skeptical. We are a looonnngg way from being able to build a functioning organ out of individual cells. Especially using a printer.
Techniques of tweaking DNA to induce an organ to grow is a lot more likely to be available first.
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>If a person is on a transplant list, and they or their family is constantly asking for prayer that they will hurry up and get the call, then I believe they are hoping for someones death so that they can have their organ/organs.<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<
I have been through a double transplant, and I assure you there was never any “hoping for someone’s death”, it was a very traumatic and heart-wrenching process worrying ahead of time about the donor circumstances surrounding receiving an organ transplant. Our prayers were for the donor and their family, and the guilt feelings were real and overwhelming for a long time. Only by talking to donor families, prospective donors and/or other recipients can one put it all into perspective.
As donor families have explained to me, the death of their loved one was in no way brought about by someone “praying for organs”, and there was comfort in knowing the wishes of the donor (and the family) were carried out. Do you think that prayers from a family of a dying prospective recipient somehow cause or hasten the donor’s death?
It is a humbling and very emotional time for both families. Anyone who has received “the call” regarding a transplant can attest to the emotions that overtake them. Prior to my lengthy illness preceding the transplant, I had my license notated that I was a willing organ donor as it made no sense to me to not take the opportunity to help someone else live.
Great post. Thanks for sharing.
Thank you for the kind words. It has been over a year since my transplant, and I have signed up to speak publicly about the need for donors, but am not quite ready to do so as yet. I cannot even talk about it without being overcome by emotion, as the gift of life is so incredibly precious. I am still working on being able to speak without losing it.
I have just learned that even talking about it here helps! Thanks for listening!
I am glad that you are doing well. I just can’t.
I meant to include in my other post that I completely understand and respect your point of view regarding a transplant. It is, however, always sad to me to think someone else may not have the opportunity I was given, however logical their objections are. I wish you well, and pray that other means may be found to treat your condition in a manner you would be comfortable with.
It is true that death happens. But in order to receive a transplant, it pretty much means that a specific person--that rare person who is an antigenic match--must die. I just cannot rationalize hoping for that person to die (even if that hope is expressed in terms of hoping for a match).
Tweaking the DNA can change the genotype of the organ that grows, which could be helpful for treating some genetic abnormality that causes aberrant organ growth or function in the first place (such as a defect in a liver enzyme).
Cells do not differentiate into tissues by any kind of DNA alteration. They differentiate as a result of signaling from various growth factors. The more we understand about the sequence and timing of signaling, the more able we will be to grow organs that look and function like the original.
If cells are programmed with the correct set of signals, they want to form structured tissues. I once grew cells in the lab that spontaneously formed little sheets of connective tissue. They formed layers, with fibers running perpendicular to each other. Some of the fibers anchored themselves on the side of the petri dish.
I am very sorry to hear that.
You are no doubt correct. Each cell contains the entire DNA sequence.
I was speaking pretty loosely. My point was that inducing stem cells to grow into specific structures and/or organs is likely to be available LONG before we can “print” a functioning organ.
In fact, I don’t see how doing that would even be possible. You might be able to build something that on the macro level appears identical. But would it function the same. Darn unlikely, IMO.
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