Thousands of people die each year while waiting in hospitals for organ replacements that never arrive. The waiting lists for hearts, livers, and kidneys are constantly expanding, and the number of annual donors always remains far too low. This, of course, is a tragic frustration for healthcare providers, who have the technology and skills needed to save these lives, but are crippled by the unavailability of organs. And it has also created some serious ethics debates in the scientific community regarding who should be given first priority to the invaluable replacements when they do finally become available.
But thanks to a revolutionary recent breakthrough in the healthcare industry, all of this may soon be changing. A process called bioprinting has demonstrated the potential to manufacture complete organs for use in drug trials and, eventually, organ transplants.
The technique combines design technology (traditionally used for creating 3D models) with stem cell biology to; in essence, build models of human tissue from ‘ink’ laden with living cells. One day, it could be utilized to create entire living organs.
With the help of bioprinting start-up, Organovo, online printer cartridge suppliers, PrinterInks, created this infographic to explain how scientists use 3D printing technology to print human cells, as well as highlight the exciting potential for the future of bioprinting.