Printing Human Organs: Scientists look to 3D printing to create living tissue
Scientists are looking a 3D printing to address the worldwide shortage of organs for transplant. They are trying to save lives by creating living tissue. Tao Yuan visits a lab in Shandong Province to find out more.
This is no ordinary summer school. But a lesson on the most state-of-the-art bio technology, to inspire young scientist wannabes. Printing human tissue and organs may still sound like science fiction today for these high school kids. But it's got the potential to revolutionize the world of medicine.
ZANG CHUANBAO CTO of Cryomedicine Ctr. Shandong Yinfeng Life Science Institution "What we want to achieve is sort of an organ store. If anyone's organs are damaged, they can come to this store, to find a replacement that's tailor-made for them."
The idea is similar to that of 3D printing. But instead of metal and plastic, the ink head churns out layer after layer of gel, containing living cells.
CHENG LONG Senior Engineer of Cryomedicine Center Shandong Yinfeng Life Science Institution "The cells come from the patients themselves. Because of that, there will be no rejection from the body."
A piece of knee cartilage, fresh out of the printer. It's already being tested on animals, and may soon hit the clinic. It's the low hanging fruit of bio engineering. But the possibility of printing a whole heart or bladder is still a far way off.
This is the closest we've got.In 2019, scientists in Israel created a 3D print of a heart with human tissue and vessels. It's only the size of a cherry, and doesn't pump. But scientists say it's pushed the envelope of regenerative medicine.
I asked how soon before a printed organ can be transplanted into the human body.CHENG LONG Snr. Engineer of Cryomedicine Ctr. Shandong Yinfeng Life Science Institution "Leading scientists in this field predicted 20 to 30 years."
ZANG CHUANBAO CTO of Cryomedicine Ctr. Shandong Yinfeng Life Science Institution "This is also a dream for scientists in tissue engineering and regenerative medicine in China. We hope the global scientific community can work together to make that happen."
That dream might fall on the shoulders of these teenage scientists.
LI YICHEN Student "I want to study bio engineering. Now I understand deeper about my future career."
WANG XIAO General President Talent Honor Education Organization "Especially after the COVID-19 outbreak, more children are interested in life and medical sciences. This will have a positive effect on the future of mankind."
130-thousand organ transplants take place each year. But the number of patients on the waiting list is ten times more. Lives waiting for a second chance. Bioprinting as a solution might still be decades away. But now, a glimmer of hope.