Remember how you used to need to find someone with a healthy liver or kidney if you needed a transplant?
Okay, technically you still do… but this could end in the coming years.
Scientists are making quick work in creating “engineered tissues” in labs with which they can make a fully functioning human organ.
Most advanced labs can already use 3D printing to create something resembling a human organ. The trick with 3D printing is actually making it work like an organ.
There are tons of different scaffolds and blood vessels and whatnot that deliver nutrients to the organ. Not to mention all the interconnectivity with the brain and other parts of the body that are way too complex to get into here.
Medical research is already employing these engineered tissues. In some cases they’re being used in clinical trials.
All sounds pretty normal. But it gets weird.
The most highly engineered organ models… don’t actually look like organs at all.
They’re made using manufacturing techniques similar to those used to make silicon microchips in computers. It’s a complicated process involving silicon, ultraviolet light, 3D networking, and of course cells of the desired organ type.
What researchers have ended up with is something that truly mimics an actual organ.
And while these organ models aren’t in development for human use (yet), they’re telling researchers a lot about how diseases spread through the body.
It gets better — they’re also useful for testing new drugs. Forget animal and human testing! This is much more ethical… and it speeds up the process, too.
Whether this technology is used to patch a damaged heart, give us greater insight into brain disease, or whatever — it will give scientists much needed understanding of how our bodies work so they can better help people.
Several companies are beginning to make a major impact in this area. Check out my BioTech Intel Trader service to learn more about the market plays behind this exploding industry.