Is 3D printing the future of organ replacement?
3D printing of organs is the process of printing a three-dimensional organ from a computer generated model. There are many different opinions on the issue of 3D printing. Some people believe that 3D printing of organs is a major advance in medicine technology because it completely eliminates the transplant waitlist and the painful reconstruction of a breast due to a mastectomy will be in the past. Some people are against 3D printing of organs because they are riskier than traditional transplants, can be very expensive and may not be available to all people. Background Biology
The first bio printers were not expensive nor were they fancy. They looked just like a cheap desktop printer because, in fact, that’s what they were. “In 2000, bioengineer Thomas Boland, started to investigate and old Lexmark printer in his lab at Clemson University.” (Peplow, M. 2013) Scientists had already begun to print fragments of DNA, in order to study gene expression. Boland thought that if an ink jet computer could print genes, perhaps the same inkjet printer could print other biomaterials. Boland then continued to empty the Lexmark’s ink cartridge and filled it with collagen. (The main structural protein found in animal connective tissue.) He then glued a black silicon sheet onto blank paper and put it into the printer. He then progressed to open a word document and spelled his initial. A piece of paper whirled out of the computer with his initials defined in off-white proteins. “By 2000, Boland and his team had started to work with other cells such as E.coli and mammalian.” (Peplow, M. 2013) After printing, they discovered that “90% of the cells remained viable which proves that this product can be useful and not just art.” (Peplow, M. 2013) “Soon after in 2003, other scientists began to copy Boland’s idea” (Peplow, M. 2013) with the printing of bone grafts from ceramic, dental crowns from porcelain,...
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