3D Printing of Organs in Space Could Be A Reality Soon

US-based startup Techshot has collaborated with NASA to give a shot and create a bioprinter that could 3D print organs at the International Space Station (ISS) in the future. There are over 115,000 US residents waiting for a lifesaving organ transplant, and scientists are working in the direction of 3D printing organs for transplant to curtail these growing numbers.

But, the major concern that arises at the time of 3D printing an organ is that the weight of the complex internal structures can collapse the organ. Many scientists have tried using scaffolding systems as an answer, but having achieved futile results some of them think 3-D printing in a zero-gravity environment could be the solution.

Techshot and NASA have joined hands to develop a 3D bioprinter named BioFabrication facility (BFF), which is a tiny device that uses the stem cells of a patient to 3D print patches for repairing heart repairs. They are likely to send the 3D bioprinter to the ISS for testing in May. These tests will run for over a year to ensure its working correctly.

The startup has high hopes from the bioprinter as it believes that one day hearts could be printed commercially for transplants. The VP Techshot Rich Boling said that the company’s ultimate aim is to save the lives of more than 20 people who succumb to death everyday waiting for a lifesaving organ transplant The company’s latest move is in line with this aim.

Boling mentioned that following the completion of their test protocols, they will make the program assessable for the outside researchers, who want to use their device. The outside researchers will be able to test and use the device.

Many researchers are working and hoping to make transplant waiting queues a thing of distant past, in a couple of decades. They are hopeful that one day, 3-D printing and organ transplantation will take just two-to-three hours with no body-related rejection risk. These printed organs would be composed of the same body cells that they will put inside once they meet the size requirement, and other specifications of each patient individually.

The existing technology isn’t sufficiently refined to bioprint highly complicated and delicate human organs, however, it has been done for many less complex organs already. Researchers at the Wake Forest University in North California mined cells from the improperly working bladder of a patient to cultivate them with additional nutrients. Previously, researchers at Harvard 3D-printed the first ever heart-on-a-chip using integrated sensors.

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About the Author: Shambhu Nath Jha

Mr. Shambhu Nath Jha is a seasoned consultant and researcher. His research papers have been published in reputed websites and trade journals. His interests include philosophy and history.

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