3D Printed Liver could save millions every year!

29 Jul

3D Printed Liver could save millions every year!

Human Body is a maze of complex organs coordinating with each other in way that would be impossible to ever understand. What makes things complicated is the way these organs works and interact with external condition, hence no matter how much we advance in the field of medicine there will still be a long way ahead. Organ transplant is one kind of stop gap solution the doctors suggest when the medicines fail to cure an organ. Unfortunately for us Organ transplant means involvement of a donor and a receiver which causes a kind of demand and supply. Currently there are millions of people who need Organ transplant however there is acute shortage of donors, hence if you get a transplant done you would have to be extremely lucky.

Liver damage is becoming very common because of diseases like Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, there is a strong demand because of life style issues like Long-term alcohol consumption. It has been extremely difficult to cater to the huge demand of donor liver hence making a break through with artificial liver has become the call of the day.

There are many countries which have been working with Bio Medical 3d printer to create artificial 3d printed Liver. However until now we have not seen any major breakthrough that we could look up to but there seems to be a light at the end of the tunnel now. A team of scientist led by Sungho Jang has taken hepatocytes from a mouse and used them to create a 3D hepatic structure. That is the essential building block of a new liver.

3D Printed Liver Test

The said liver cells successfully survived 30 days under controlled laboratory environment (where they were kept in an alginate solution). This is a very important development as this the longest time these hepatocytes have survived, there were no major morphological changes and the hepatic marker genes were still expressed after the one-month period.

While the experiments seems to be very encouraging it’s still a far way to go before we could see this being used in making artificial liver which could be used for transplant. Who heads the Cardiovascular Innovation Institute which is working with 3D printed heart tissues explains the complications 

“We have already produced the smallest capillaries in isolation, but creating the whole organ is more complex than simply throwing together an STL file containing the parts. Building an organ is a hugely complex task as there are so many variants. Even producing connective tissue, the glue that holds the layers together, is supremely complicated and the printing process itself is often the issue as the materials must be viscous enough to print and yet take their shape and form immediately.”

The research done by the Korean team was completely different from the others working in the field as they have not used stem cells to make scaffold and they were successful in creating new tissue. We hope success to both the approach; I am better off knowing that there are people trying lessen human suffering.