This video has been doing the rounds of the blogosphere over the past few days but for anyone who has missed it so far it is worth checking out. Surgeon Anthony Atala demonstrates an early-stage experiment that could someday solve the organ-donor problem: a 3D printer that uses living cells to output a transplantable kidney. If you are impatient skip to around 7:00 to see a nice desktop inkjet printer hack used to implant bone into a patient, and then goes on to show a
kidney being printed a kidney-shaped mold being printed on stage and explained how one day – many years from now – the technology might be used to print actual organs. (update thanks to Glen Slingsby)
Anthony Atala is the director of the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine, where his work focuses on growing and regenerating tissues and organs. His team engineered the first lab-grown organ to be implanted into a human, a bladder,and is developing experimental fabrication technology that can “print” human tissue on demand.
The printing of organs was also discussed in the Economist issue that focused on the 3D printing industry and a Time Magazine article from November 2010 featured Invetech and Organovo, a couple of the companies leading the way in Bio-3D-Printing.
I guess now we have to ask the usual question, what would YOU 3D print if/when Shapeways starts bio-printing?