Organ printing may sound like a plot line out of a science fiction movie, but it’s anything but. In fact, a team of doctors and researchers from the University of Louisville in Kentucky have taken great strides in 3-D printing a working human heart.
As the Associated Press reports, cell biologist Stuart Williams is leading the ambitious creation of a so-called “bioficial heart,” that’s both and artificial and natural because it’s made from a recipient’s own fat cells. Williams told the AP that he and his team have already printed simpler parts — such as human heart valves and small veins. He said they have also successfully tested the tiny blood vessels on lab mice and other animals.
Williams said the goal is to print parts and assemble an entire bioficial heart in three to five years. The organ should be ready for human trials in less than 10 years.
We’ve already seen how the remarkable technology of 3-D printing is being used to create medical devices and prosthesis. Now, 3-D printing has the potential to revolutionize global organ shortages. How so? Since bioficial hearts are built from a recipient’s own cells, it’s unlikely the patient would reject the transplanted organ.
Watch the video below to learn more about this exciting (albeit, weird) new science.