Medical professionals are making strides towards 3D printed organs made from patient’s own stem cells. These printed organs could make a big difference especially for patients with mesothelioma or other chronic lung diseases caused by asbestos. Lung transplants could be a viable option for those diagnosed with mesothelioma except for the fact that there are more people waiting for organ donations than are available and there is only a 10 to 20 % survival rate of a total lung transplant after 10 years from the surgery (Anderson, 2017).
In late 2016, scientists in the Czech Republic successfully printed a functioning human lung (Millsaps, 2016). Synthetic lungs are printed from a layer by layer process where cells are built up using collagen to hold everything in place (Anderson, 2017). Cellink, a bio-tech company based in Sweden, is developing their own “bioink” to print organs that then “take on intricate forms of data derived from MRI machines” (Gellerman, 2017).
Biolife4D, a biotech company based in the United States is also revolutionizing the use of bio-ink. They first take an MRI of the organ to create a digital image, like Cellink. Then doctors take a blood sample from the patient. Blood cells are then turned into stem cells and then bio-ink. Founding partner and CEO, Steven Morris, explains that when they “bioprint” an organ, it is essentially a bunch of organ-specific cells put in all the right places and when joined together, become a functioning organ (Peters, 2018).
Printing new organs could mean the elimination of the lack of healthy organs that are available to those who need them. Some even suggest that because scientists are able to print organs with patient’s own stem cells that their bodies will be more receptive to these organs and will not have a need for anti-rejection drugs that usually go along with a traditional organ transplant (Peters, 2018).
Anderson, V. (2017). Can 3D printing help fight cancer? Machine Design, Retrieved from http://ezproxy-alum.bu.edu.ezproxy.bu.edu/docview/1984690972?accountid=162668
Gellerman, B. (2017, November 22). How 3D Bioprinting Could Revolutionize Organ Replacement. Retrieved February 14, 2018, from http://www.wbur.org/bostonomix/2017/11/22/3d-bioprinting
Millsaps, B. B. (2016, November 28). Czech Researchers Use 3D Printing to Create Fully Functional Lung Model. Retrieved February 13, 2018, from https://3dprint.com/156648/czech-researchers-3dp-lung/
Peters, A. (2018, February 05). Working, Beating Hearts Will Soon Be 3D-Printed From Patients’ Own Cells. Retrieved February 16, 2018, from https://www.fastcompany.com/40519642/working-beating-hearts-will-soon-be-3d-printed-from-patients-own-cells