3D (three-dimensional) organ printing is to be considered as a revolution in the medical field. It is a technique that aims to artificially create body organs that can mimic the structural and functional activity of the real organ.
The 3D organ printing technique enables the layer wise construction of patient specific organ to form specific segments and scaffolds. The data of patient is taken via CT scans and MRI tests. This uses the process of cell seeding in which the cells of the specific organ to made are added to the scaffold.
This technique employs biological printer, a device, which uses a gel component that provides support and suspension of cells to be cultured. The print nozzle propels the mixture, fussing cells to form tissues, afterward the gel is washed of leaving cells only. The adhesion between cells is caused by different polymers, such as, gelatin, collagen and agarose which are termed as bio-ink.
Early roots of organ printing
In history, 3D organ printing is explained as the process of being able to fully develop organs like heart and liver. The first person behind 3D printing is Charles Hull who invented first 3D printer in 1948, other name Stereolithography, which makes 3D objects from CAD (Computer aided design) drawings.
In 1999, scientist at Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine made first lab grown implanted human bladder. Dr. Anthony Atala successfully implanted printed human bladder into seven patients.
In 2002, scientists 3D-printed a miniature functional kidney that was able to filter blood and produce urine in an animal model but there is no transplantation of human kidney due to First bio printer was made by Thomas Boland in 2003.
In 2010, a bio printing company named Organovo is the first to 3D print blood vessels.
New organs in laboratory
3D organ printing have developed and recently it has found applicability in fields of medicine such as, prosthetic parts, patient-specific bone and skin regeneration, tissue regeneration e.g. kidney cells, liver cells and heart cells. The technology tends to improve the transplants rate.
One of the successful products is bio-printed skin that includes a sequence of steps. The characterization by histology of the bio-printed skin were found to be same as that of in vivo real skin, the trails are still on. 3 D printing has been also found lead in orthopedics where they help in forming eco-friendly casts for fractured site that promises light weight and water protection.
In the year 2013, various scientists of China have begun printing of organs such as liver, ear, kidney, etc. by using 3D printers utilizing live cells. There have been work on developing skull and brain 3-D printed model where results are promising yet under trails.
Is bio-printing the future?
In future, 3D printing organs will relieve the burden of transplants and donors. It will help solve the problem of shortage of organs. Death rate will decrease because lack of donor organs will not be a problem anymore. Each year many people die waiting for organ donors.
The complication of unmatched transplant due to tissue rejection will find a solution because in 3-D organs prints patient’s cell are used. Hence, patients will not have to take anti rejection drugs that causes adverse side effects. Other than transplantation, it will also serve as a mean for drug testing and studying organ responses to various drugs.
Transplants organ bioprinting such as that of artificial valves, stents and tissue engineering of different parts or entire heart using patient specific cells will add to new age of personalized medicine. Soon, 3D organ printing will revolutionize the regenerative medicine.
This article is jointly written by Kiran Saleem and Zainab Khursheed.