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Biotech Medicine Science

Kidney Printer 147

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the hella-spendy-ink-cartridges dept.
smitty777 writes "Dr. Anthony Atala of the Wake Forest Institute of Regenerative Medicine demonstrated his technique for printing a new kidney. The early stage technology involves scanning the patient's current organ, and actually printing the organ directly into the patient. He refutes reported claims that it's just a kidney shaped mold, as reported by some. While still in the early stages, it does hold promise that we will be able to use this technology for actual transplants in the future."
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Kidney Printer

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  • Awesome (Score:5, Funny)

    by binarylarry (1338699) on Tuesday March 08, 2011 @01:45PM (#35420826)

    HP's ink cartridges cost a kidney, new printer can actually print kidneys.

    The circle of life is complete.

    • by gilleain (1310105)

      HP's ink cartridges cost a kidney, new printer can actually print kidneys.

      The circle of life is complete.

      Sadly, 90% through printing of the new kidney, the "replace cartridge" light will start blinking - the house always wins...

      • I'd hate to be the first person to use a new machine, I hear that the cartridge that comes with the machine only makes it to about 50%.

      • HP's ink cartridges cost a kidney, new printer can actually print kidneys.

        The circle of life is complete.

        Sadly, 90% through printing of the new kidney, the "replace cartridge" light will start blinking - the house always wins...

        That's OK. You have enough ink to print 5 more full kidneys before you really run out of ink.

        • by fractoid (1076465)
          Try convincing the stupid anti-refill chip of that... you'll have to solder some wires onto the kidney machine and plug in a PIC chip. :P
  • by Anubis350 (772791) on Tuesday March 08, 2011 @01:47PM (#35420858)
    before we can print a new Milla Jovovich?
  • just took on a whole new meaning.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    I just caught up and bought a 3d printer, and now they come out with a kidney printer... it's a never ending cycle.

    • He would have gotten the technology a lot sooner but he didn't get much response to his add for the trial : "Scientist wants to scan your organ. Call Dr A. Atala Now. $$$ offered"

  • TFS: "He refutes reported claims that it's just a kidney shaped mold, as reported by some"

    TFA: "Wake Forest has since clarified media inaccuracies in a press release, stating Dr. Atla printed "a kidney-shaped mold", not a functioning kidney."
    • Re:What? (Score:5, Informative)

      by immortalpob (847008) on Tuesday March 08, 2011 @02:02PM (#35421060)
      Actually that sentence is terrible.. from the wake forest site: "Reports in the media that Dr. Anthony Atala printed a real kidney at the TED conference in Long Beach, Calif., are completely inaccurate. At the conference, Dr. Atala used a new type of technology to print a kidney-shaped mold and explained how one day – many years from now – the technology might be used to print actual organs."

      So no real kidney, just a mold.
      • by ciaohound (118419)

        "Just" a mold? I suppose penicillin is "just" a mold. You insensitive clod.

      • by davef1999 (904391)
        I talked w/Dr. Atala at TED. He has printed real kidney fragments, implanted them in cows, and they've produced urine. The current limiting factor is nourishment for the kidney cells during the printing process. Thus, the 'total print time' is limited, which means he can make only small kidneys at the moment. He says the likely first application will be 'augmentation' kidneys for sufferers of kidney disease, not full replacements. And this is still years away. The device on stage at TED was his actual
        • You don't have to be an engineer to see the obvious solution...

          Instead of one big kidney, just print thousands of tiny ones. Possibly over multiple sessions....

          • by fractoid (1076465)
            Your first suggestion wasn't a Beowulf cluster of Linux-running kidney printers? Hand in your ./ badge. :P

            ...then ???Profit. Somehow. :P
            • Beowulf clusters were the rage of the early noughties. In the late noughties, which we're coming out of now, it was about GPGPU tricks. I'm not sure what the next fetish will be/is...

  • From TFA:

    Wake Forest has since clarified media inaccuracies in a press release, stating Dr. Atla printed "a kidney-shaped mold", not a functioning kidney.

    Where's the link for Dr. Atala contradicting Wake Forest?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I hear it costs an arm and a leg!

  • The Summary confuses me...
    From the summary:

    He refutes reported claims that it's just a kidney shaped mold, as reported by some.

    From the linked story:

    Wake Forest has since clarified media inaccuracies in a press release, stating Dr. Atla printed "a kidney-shaped mold", not a functioning kidney.

    Did he print an actual kidney or not. I am guessing not.

  • In the TED talk, he blames things like "we're living longer" for the shortage of organs. The much more obvious reason why there is a shortage of organs, and why organs are so expensive, is that it is illegal to sell one's own organs. An elderly person has no incentive to donate his organs on death, if his surviving loved ones do not profit from it.

    This shortage is contrived.
    • Why not allow people to sell their organs to help cover the expensive costs of funerals. More old folks would love to sell their internal organs so as to help their loved ones they leave behind not being burdened by having to pay for their funeral.

    • The much more obvious reason why there is a shortage of organs, and why organs are so expensive, is that it is illegal to sell one's own organs. An elderly person has no incentive to donate his organs on death, if his surviving loved ones do not profit from it.

      See, someone less out of touch with reality who doesn't think capitalism solves all problems would suggest that you should have to opt-out of organ donation rather than opt in. That would solve the problem WITHOUT encouraging organ theft, desperate people selling their organs while still alive, and all sorts of other hideous abuses.

      Oh, but wait, then it would be harder for anyone to make millions in organ trading... well then never mind, it's clearly socialism and that's evil.

      • Do you own your own body? I would imagine you would like to believe that you do. If you think that a woman owns her own body and can do what she would like with it ie. Abortion, then she and any one else with sentience would thereby have the rights to their own body to do with it as they please. This includes selling parts off of it and transferring their property after their deaths, it. posthumous selling of their own internal organs. It isn't a capitalism issue, it is a body ownership issue.

        Do you own you

        • If you think the state owns your body, have fun with that philosophy as the state can now do whatever they want with you.

          Well I think the problem here is that straw men have no organs, but if they did, ownership of said organs would be a very interesting issue. Maybe I'd even make a statement on who owns straw man organs. But I didn't, did I?

        • There are some problems that relate to the concept of ownership. This is not one of those problems.

          We in the real world decided some time ago that there are many issues where a pragmatic approach, ignoring philosophical consistency, gets the job done and allows us to get on with making the world a nicer place to live.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Mr. Slippery (47854)

          Do you own your own body? Or do you think the "state" is somehow "entitled" to own your own body.

          Your question is based on a false premise. Living bodies are not ownable.

          "Your" body is the thing that does the verb that is you. Flight does not own an arrow, shining does not own the sun, a Em7 chord does not own a guitar. The action and the subject are inseparable.

          Property, on the other hand, is a relationship that is separable. You do not own your body. So long as your body is being a living human being,

      • by StikyPad (445176)

        No, people would still make millions in organ trading (and installation), just not the people who grew them.

        I see nothing wrong with people selling their own organs, and I seriously doubt it would diminish what is already a minuscule pool of donors.

        Anyway, most people make an explicit choice when they receive their driver's license or state ID, which could just as easily be called "out-out" as "opt-in."

    • by westlake (615356)

      An elderly person has no incentive to donate his organs on death, if his surviving loved ones do not profit from it.

      The elderly person may have nothing of value to donate.

    • In the TED talk, he blames things like "we're living longer" for the shortage of organs.

      Improvements in trauma medicine, vehicular safety, and workplace safety are the biggest causes for the shortage of organs.

      Things like seatbelt laws, motorcycle helmet laws, and OSHA aren't helping either. Catastrophic fatal injuries (especially head trauma) are jackpots for donor organs. Crass, but true.

    • by Lehk228 (705449)
      the rational thing to do would be to eliminate the concept of organ "donation" usable organs should be taken when a person dies, they are dead and do not have rights anymore, unlike the people who are alive and awaiting organs.
      • Grand idea, except that many cultures and religions have rules against desecrating the body after death. It may be rational to harvest when the heart stops, but it's not realistic.

    • There are two reasons for the organ shortage: 1- most people take theirs to the grave. 2- sick people outnumber the dead, so the supply(from recently dead) will always be smaller than the number with (possibly long term) illness. I would suggest negative option billing. Instead of signing up to donate your organs (then having your next of kin second guess you), we assume that everyone wants to donate their body parts unless they register, and harvest all available parts at death unless they have done
      • I'd also suggest that anyone who registers against donation would be put at the back of the line for recipient organs (or taken off the list).

        You do realize that communism, while good on paper most of the time, never works in reality right? There's this little thing called "human compassion" that will put your conscientious objector in a position based on his need and not your indignation.

        To put it another way, communism will only work when humanity is completely replaced by autonomous machines without emotion.

  • How this works (Score:5, Interesting)

    by currently_awake (1248758) on Tuesday March 08, 2011 @02:05PM (#35421092)
    You take an inkjet printer, load the tank with (organ specialized) human cells and print the organ layer by layer with a filler material to hold it all together. The best source of human cells would be stem cells(made from that person to prevent immune system hazards), though taking cells from an existing kidney might work in some cases. It would work best done outside the body at least till the glue dries. Should work for most of the organs in the human body, including muscle and tendons. stem cell research is almost at the point this can be done, eliminating the need for donor organs. In theory this would work for bones as well, allowing you to print an arm or leg. In about 25 years we'll have the stem cell/printer tech to print a whole person with this tech (or build an android that looks/feels the same), though i'm sure that will be banned by the religious extremists. If AI ever works techno-nerds living in their parents basements will finally .
    • by pz (113803)

      Prof. Brian Derby of the University of Manchester was printing bone scaffolding in 2005. He was a finalist for the Saatchi and Saatchi World Changing Ideas Award in 2008 for that work (full disclosure: I was a finalist as well, but for something else).

      Here's but one link to the press coverage of that particular idea from 2005.
      http://news.cnet.com/Paging%20Dr.%20Inkjet/2100-1041_3-5656823.html [cnet.com]

  • How do they taste? How about with some fava beans and a nice chianti?
  • TFA makes it sound like a printer for a much simpler organ (bladder) has been used in at least one human trial. I wonder if there is anything published in medical literature about this kind of thing? (I'm not in medicine or biotech, so I wouldn't necessarily know).
    • I attended a talk by Dr. Atala earlier this year. His background in urology, so urethras and bladders were the first applications of the technology. The problem with other organs is vascularization. Without infiltration by blood vessels, the printed tissue can only survive in a layer 5cm from blood. That's fine for hollow organs like those that have gone to trial.

  • Wish this guy would test the technology using goose liver. It will save the poor birds a lot of grief, assure French restaurants a steady supply of fois gras, satisfy PETA and will get to the market sooner.
    • I'm waiting for a kidney transplant. I'm not sure that fois gras is a more immediate concern.
      • by Changa_MC (827317)

        I had a friend on the waiting list for a kidney for many years so I certainly sympathize with your plight, but you misread the GP. Not a more immediate concern, but more immediate results. It will be years before the FDA allows you to implant a synthetic kidney, possibly decades. Before that, we need to produce a fully functional kidney, which is years to decades out as well. In the meantime, we can start producing fois gras next month, and get it approved for human consumption within a couple years (or

        • Thanks for the clarification changa_Mc, you said it better, I have canceled my partially formed reply.

          Other points would be that bio-engineered fois gras would put some cash on the table and fund the R&D towards kidney research, it will iron out the kinks in the process and pay to amortize the installation costs of the production facility too.

    • by Belial6 (794905)
      There is no satisfying organizations like PETA. Their end goal is a paradox. Printing fois gras would just give them more time to go after other animal uses.
  • by Guano_Jim (157555) on Tuesday March 08, 2011 @02:25PM (#35421338)

    http://www.ted.com/talks/anthony_atala_printing_a_human_kidney.html

    You can watch the actual video here.

  • by Herg (564957) on Tuesday March 08, 2011 @02:38PM (#35421508)
    What the f@(% does that mean?
  • How it really works (Score:2, Interesting)

    by ddd0004 (1984672)

    It gets the command to print a new kidney.
    It reports that it will be ready it 48 hours.
    It flies down to Mexico.
    Some unsuspecting tourist wakes up in a bathtub of ice.
    You get a new kidney.

  • Penis printing facilities. Price is measure in standard page sizes: A4, A3, A2, A1, US Letter size, or Foolscap.

  • Give me a heads-up when they can print hearts and brains. I may be able to get a couple of government contracts. No, they don't need to be bleeding edge hi-res for that.
    • The same technology has already printed a chicken heart, that spontaneously started contracting and coordinated the rhythm across the whole organ within a day.

I am not now, nor have I ever been, a member of the demigodic party. -- Dennis Ritchie

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