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3D Printing of Human Tissue To Spark Ethics Debate 234

Posted by Soulskill
from the your-liver-is-made-to-order dept.
Lucas123 writes "In a report released today, Gartner predicts that the time is drawing near when 3D-bioprinted human organs will be readily available, an advance almost certain to spark a complex debate involving a variety of political, moral and financial interests. For example, some researchers are using cells from human and non-human organs to create stronger tissue, said Pete Basiliere, a Gartner research director. 'In this example, there was human amniotic fluid, canine smooth muscle cells, and bovine cells all being used. Some may feel those constructs are of concern,' he said. While regulations in the U.S. and Europe will mean human trials of 3D printed organs will likely take up to a decade, nations with less stringent standards will plow ahead with the technology. For example, last August, the Hangzhou Dianzi University in China announced it had invented the biomaterial 3D printer Regenovo, which printed a small working kidney that lasted four months. Apart from printing tissue, 3D printing may also threaten intellectual property rights. 'IP will be ignored and it will be impossible or impractical to enforce. Everything will change when you can make anything.' said John Hornick, an IP attorney."
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3D Printing of Human Tissue To Spark Ethics Debate

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  • IP freely (Score:5, Insightful)

    by game kid (805301) on Wednesday January 29, 2014 @04:12PM (#46103745) Homepage

    Apart from printing tissue, 3D printing may also threaten intellectual property rights. 'IP will be ignored and it will be impossible or impractical to enforce. Everything will change when you can make anything.' said John Hornick, an IP attorney.

    No. Stop. Quit turning natural ideas into assets to be bought, sold, lobbied-for, and speculated.

    • Re:IP freely (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Bacon Bits (926911) on Wednesday January 29, 2014 @04:29PM (#46103981)

      But I deserve to have more wealth than any ten thousand other people on this planet combined! I mean, maybe I actually invented it and maybe I just bought it from the sucker-- er, person who did. My handful of years of work should absolutely support me and my family indefinitely. Also, I shouldn't have to pay taxes because I'm so great.

    • Re:IP freely (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 29, 2014 @04:36PM (#46104071)

      IP lawyers just want their cut... they see a way to latch onto a copywritable item (the digital file) and say "when you print it, it's a copy". The closest corollary is finding a recipe for a cake and baking it. The baked cake is not a new copy of the recipe.

      The baker followed the instructions of the recipe. The recipe is copywritable and the cake is not subject of the copyright.

      If IP lawyers try to say otherwise, we have a bigger mess than the implications to 3d printing. It means that you can't follow any how-to's on the internet without paying a royalty each time you follow the steps. It means that the people who write recipe books get a cut every time you make a meal.

       

    • Re:IP freely (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Jane Q. Public (1010737) on Wednesday January 29, 2014 @04:37PM (#46104075)

      "No. Stop. Quit turning natural ideas into assets to be bought, sold, lobbied-for, and speculated."

      It's bullshit anyway. 3D printing doesn't "threaten" copyrights or patents. It may be true that people might be able to make patented gadgets for their own home use... but that's already legal. And has been, as far as I know, for 200+ years.

      There is no reason to change the laws, because manufacturing patented products for profit without permission is already illegal anyway. I don't see how enforcement of THAT would be significantly more difficult than it is now.

      As usual, it's the "I have a RIGHT to suck money out of you" people who are bitching about this. Too bad. They can't stop it, and they'd better not force changes in the laws. People are pissed off enough already.

      • Re:IP freely (Score:5, Interesting)

        by CanHasDIY (1672858) on Wednesday January 29, 2014 @04:39PM (#46104085) Homepage Journal

        "No. Stop. Quit turning natural ideas into assets to be bought, sold, lobbied-for, and speculated."

        It's bullshit anyway. 3D printing doesn't "threaten" copyrights or patents. It may be true that people might be able to make patented gadgets for their own home use... but that's already legal. And has been, as far as I know, for 200+ years.

        This.

        I can hand-carve Mickey Mouse figurines out of soap all day every day, and so long as I don't try to sell them, Disney can't do shit about it.

        • by suutar (1860506)
          (probably) true, but that's because they're trademarked and/or copyrighted, not patented.
          • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

            "(probably) true, but that's because they're trademarked and/or copyrighted, not patented."

            No, it isn't. The law is the same. If you have patented a device, I can copy it for my own use and it's perfectly legal. And always has been.

            A patent allows you the limited-time right to commercially manufacture and distribute your invention. There is no law (in the U.S.) against copying it for personal use.

      • by mark-t (151149)

        but that's already legal.

        Actually, it isn't... but if it's really just for your private home use, it's unlikely that the person owning the patent would ever even know that you did it, let alone try to sue you for doing so. Still technically not legal, though.

      • Re:IP freely (Score:5, Informative)

        by suutar (1860506) on Wednesday January 29, 2014 @05:25PM (#46104565)
        Sadly no. Making patented gadgets for your own use is an infringement (both for making and for using). You're unlikely to get caught by the patent holder, but it's still not legal. Here's [gpo.gov] the relevant section of US code.
        • Re:IP freely (Score:4, Informative)

          by Jane Q. Public (1010737) on Wednesday January 29, 2014 @06:21PM (#46105121)

          "Sadly no. Making patented gadgets for your own use is an infringement (both for making and for using)."

          I stand corrected. I looked it up myself and you are correct.

          There are however two recognized exceptions from case law. One (I don't have the citation handy) was for "determining the veracity and preciseness of the specification", and the other, from Roche Products v. Bolar Pharmaceutical, 733 F2d 858, 221 USPQ 937 (Fed. Cir. 1984). That one says there is an exception

          "for the sole purpose of gratifying a philosophical taste, or curiosity, or for mere amusement"

          So yes, if it is just to gratify your philosophical taste or curiosity, or for fun, it is still legal. Otherwise no, unless you are trying to compare the spec.

      • by Bengie (1121981)
        Manufacturing for public sale to make a profit is easy to track, but tracking private use is nearly impossible. This is the new "don't record TV shows with your VCR" type issue.
        • "Manufacturing for public sale to make a profit is easy to track, but tracking private use is nearly impossible."

          For now. When it becomes possible to actually print a Ferrari from your desktop, the "nearly impossible" tracking of everything we do would also become possible, with literally dirt cheap sensors installed everywhere.

          That's unless we pass stringent privacy laws to protect against NSA/Big Data-style surveillance of random individuals. Or maybe it'll be a losing battle, and whether you're an exhibi

    • Hornick's comments make no sense in biotech. Genes and cells are patented not organs. You can print organs with a 3D printer, not genes or cells. Cells already "print" themselves, and genes can be printed easily with a PCR machine.

      Companies who engineer fluorescent proteins, for example, have patents on them. They seem to turn a profit despite the fact that there's nothing like DRM on them (DNA rights management I guess?)

      I suppose people could patent the scaffolds that will be printed, but as
    • by Bengie (1121981)

      IP will be ignored and it will be impossible or impractical to enforce

      When I tried to look up "Unenforceable law", I got forwarded to "void" and "invalid" laws. I guess we know what IP law is going to turn into.

    • by MrKaos (858439)

      Apart from printing tissue, 3D printing may also threaten intellectual property rights. 'IP will be ignored and it will be impossible or impractical to enforce. Everything will change when you can make anything.' said John Hornick, an IP attorney.

      No. Stop. Quit turning natural ideas into assets to be bought, sold, lobbied-for, and speculated.

      When your only tool is a hammer...

    • And by natural ideas you mean anything that comes from a human brain right? ;)

      I would be more extreme and include unnatural ideas also such as those that come from a computer program.

      IOW the destruction of the patent system altogether.

      Yes I am a rebel and no I don't believe that inventors should be given monopolies anymore - that boat has sailed.

  • by Dorianny (1847922) on Wednesday January 29, 2014 @04:13PM (#46103757) Journal
    Everything will change when you can make anything.' said John Hornick, an IP attorney." I sure do hope so!
    • Agreed. While R&D certainly plays an important role, it lately churned out a clusterfuck of unnecessary IPs. The whole industry needs a good shakedown to wake to reality.

    • by Grishnakh (216268)

      How are IP attorneys like John Hornick supposed to earn a living when you can print anything you want in the future? This will have a devastating effect on our economy, because IP lawyers are among the most productive people in our entire society. Won't someone think of the lawyers???!!

  • by Kenja (541830) on Wednesday January 29, 2014 @04:14PM (#46103779)
    Admit it, the first thing we're all going to print is genitalia.
  • by camperdave (969942) on Wednesday January 29, 2014 @04:20PM (#46103873) Journal
    They tried 3D printing a lawyer from a combination of cockroach, dung beetle, and rat cells. The resultant being immediately filed a cease and desist order. The researchers were unable to determine if this was a success, or whether the creature had the good of the world in mind.
  • You wouldn't download a kidney, would you?

    ~Loyal

  • That 3rd arm I've always needed.

    Might as well make it a 3rd and 4th, because with a 3rd I'd be griping about needing a 4th arm...

  • Some may feel those constructs are of concern

    Sigh... idiots ruin everything...

  • by scorp1us (235526) on Wednesday January 29, 2014 @04:26PM (#46103937) Journal

    We've "discovered" this material that is called Extra Celluar Matrix, which forms the scaffolding for organs. We can remove the organ's cells, leaving just this scaffolding. Then we can take a culture of cells from your own organ and use it to populate the scaffolding, resulting in an organ. .

    3D printing an organ is a much more complicated process. The only advantage is it does not require a donor XCM. But here's the cool thing about XCM, it doesn't trip the immune system, and the organ's cells are yours, so there is no rejection.

    • by scorp1us (235526)

      For got to mention the XCM is also not species dependent. So We could use pig organs to contribute the scaffolding.

    • by Zenin (266666)

      How does that account for the microvascular system?

      The beauty of 3D printing organs is the ability to include all the auxiliary support systems and complex structures. Much of the technology being developed is also using the donor's own tissues and so it too does not trip the immune system.

      • by macklin01 (760841)

        I disagree with a lot of the parent's post, but this part is reasonably solved. When you decellularize an ECM, the vessel walls remain intact. Then you reseed with HUVECs (an endothelial cell line), and they tend to find their way back onto the old vessel walls to form a vasculature.

        But you are absolutely right that the microarchitecture of the tissue is very, very significant to proper function.

    • by macklin01 (760841)

      While the ECM molecular components are conserved as you point out in another post, their distribution (e.g., how much collagen IV, matrix-embedded glycoproteins, etc.), stiffness, and microarchitecture vary quite a bit from species to species, organ to organ, and even individual to individual. And this radically affects the phenotype of the cells that you transplant on them. Both cancer and "normal" epithelial cells are known to change their motility, proliferation, and even polarization characteristics bas

  • I want my Klingon face now!
  • They're talking about mixing human and animal tissue to capitalize on specific traits. This is engineered biological components--engineered humans. Not genetically engineered, but physically engineered, like engineered wood.

    You can have your arm replaced with a majorly upgraded arm? Legs that can run so fucking fast...

    • They're talking about mixing human and animal tissue to capitalize on specific traits. This is engineered biological components--engineered humans. Not genetically engineered, but physically engineered, like engineered wood.

      You can have your arm replaced with a majorly upgraded arm? Legs that can run so fucking fast...

      Have they figured out the whole wiring issue?

      I have the understanding that the reason we still use prosthetic limbs rather than cybernetic or organic replacements is because hooking up the nerves is a no-go.

      • by compro01 (777531)

        I think DARPA has some ideas on direct nerve-electrode connection, though I think their current work on PROTO 2 is using a technique called Targeted Muscle Reinnervation, which AFAICT, is essentially rewiring the nerves to some muscle near the amputated limb and reading impulses off that with implanted myoelectric sensors.

      • Given that they're already running trials of nerve-electronics interfaces [ieee.org] I'd say your understanding is wrong.

        Again.

    • Furries!

    • In a few years we'll all be hung like Jonah Falcon I guess.
  • 3D printing may also threaten intellectual property rights. 'IP will be ignored and it will be impossible or impractical to enforce. Everything will change when you can make anything.' said John Hornick, an IP attorney."

    Until we get devices like the Star Trek replicator [wikipedia.org], and there are materials even it can not produce, we will be restricted by the materials available to 3d printing. Try 3d printing a working CPU. It will be a very long time before we "can make anything".

    • Re:anything? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by CanHasDIY (1672858) on Wednesday January 29, 2014 @04:36PM (#46104063) Homepage Journal

      It will be a very long time before we "can make anything".

      If IP attorneys like John Hornick have it their way, that 'very long time' will equal 'forever.'

      • by jklovanc (1603149)

        I was using the "have the ability to" as the definition of "can" where you seem to be using "am allowed to by law" as the definition. For example, I "can" steal a car but I am "not allowed to by law".

        • I was using the "have the ability to" as the definition of "can" where you seem to be using "am allowed to by law" as the definition. For example, I "can" steal a car but I am "not allowed to by law".

          You could 'try' to steal a car, but with all the anti-theft systems and interlocks baked into the finished product, chances are unless you're a professional, you'd just end up breaking stuff.

          Therein lies the rub - sure, a 3D printer you built yourself will only have the restrictions you put into it; but what about the mass market versions that most people (i.e., those not technically savvy enough to build or hack one) will be buying? Do you really think nobody's going to try to shoehorn some form of draconi

          • by jklovanc (1603149)

            Go ahead and try to think of a way to compare a person's design with all the patents out there and decide if it infringes or not. Sorry but DRM is currently used to prevent use of unlicensed software or copying of copyright content. It has nothing to do with creating new content that is a copy. For example, anyone can record a copy-written song and distribute it. There is no DRM that can prevent that. That is exactly the same as creating a new design that happens to infringe on an existing patent.

  • by cant_get_a_good_nick (172131) on Wednesday January 29, 2014 @04:41PM (#46104115)

    A great book [rebeccaskloot.com] that probed the lines between cells, what makes us a human, rights to your own body, and identity. I hope they all read this.

  • So this is really more of a side-topic, but I thought I'd throw it out there. I guess I've always thought we would get closer to artificial/mechanical creatures as time and technology progressed. I'm wondering if the advent of 3D printing makes it possible for printing kidneys made of alloys that aren't rejected, and polymer membranes that filter the blood. Bio matter wears out, but functional artificial kidneys may not.

    Then again, a human heart lasts an astonishingly long time (2-3 billion beats) and I don

    • by femtobyte (710429)

      Good luck buying a dialysis machine with an 80+ year service interval between repairs. Biological systems are actually rather robust, thanks to an extensive infrastructure of self-repair mechanisms. Bio matter may not be as strong as engineered materials, but it gets continuously replaced instead of fatiguing and degrading over time.

  • by voss (52565) on Wednesday January 29, 2014 @04:47PM (#46104185)

    If Its my family member and that printed organ can keep them alive long enough for a donated organ to be found...hell yes.

    • by 0123456 (636235)

      If Its my family member and that printed organ can keep them alive long enough for a donated organ to be found...hell yes.

      Come now. It's perfectly ethical to watch millions of people die while you argue about the ethics of using new technology to save them.

  • "Everything will change"

    So let me get this straight... after the singularity, we will be living in a post-singularity world?

    Wow.

  • We've been dealing with artificial organs and transplanted organs for a very long time, I'm finding it difficult to figure out the real issue at hand here. It sounds to me that the 3D printing of organs would be using cells from the recipient, as in the person that needs a new liver would donate the stem cells for the new liver.

    In the case of a person with "bad" DNA that might prevent using their own cells for the new organ, like type one diabetes, then cells from a suitable donor would be used. The diffe

    • I see no issues here that have not already been discussed when it comes to organ transplantation. What I'd like to see is someone try to figure out the liability issue of some person losing their house because someone else flew a 3D printed helicopter into it. Is the pilot solely at fault? Does the designer of the helicopter share in the blame? What part does the manufacturer of the 3D printer play? There is already a slew of tort law and civil aviation regs out there coving the that.
  • Everything will change when you can make anything.

    And when everyone is superman, no one will be.

  • Just hurry up and get those replacement livers lined up. I don't care what they are made of as long as they work.
  • IP will be ignored and it will be impossible or impractical to enforce.

    yeah, it's called China. IP/copyright means nothing to them and trying to enforce it is impossible.

    Just sayin'

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