Deep Penguin sends in a piece that appeared in The Economist a couple of weeks back about a developing technology to "print" body parts for transplant. "A US and an Australian company have developed the $200,000 machine, which works by depositing stem cells and a 'sugar-based hydrogel' scaffolding material. (The stem cells are harvested from a transplant patient's own fat and bone marrow, to avoid rejection down the line.) The companies are Organovo, from San Diego, specializing in regenerative medicine, and Invetech, an engineering and automation firm in Melbourne, Australia. The initial targets are skin, muscle, and 'short stretches of blood vessels,' which they hope to have available for human implantation within five years. Down the line, they expect the technology could even print directly into the body, bypassing the in-vitro portion of the current process."
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