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Medicine

We're Getting Closer To Mass Production of Bones, Organs, and Implants (bloomberg.com) 54

Medical researchers have been able to create certain kinds of living cells with 3D printers for more than a decade. Now a few companies are getting closer to mass production of higher-order tissues (bone, cartilage, organs) and other individually tailored items, including implants. From an article: Organovo has successfully transplanted human liver tissue into mice to cure chronic liver failure. Pending the success of human trials, possible applications include the $3 billion market for inherited conditions such as hemophilia. [...] Aspect prints tissue cells to create structures that resemble parts of the human body, such as an airway or meniscus, to spur easier research on treatments for, say, asthma or muscle tears. By taking muscle cells from a lung, for example, the company built respiratory tissue that responded to common asthma inhalers as a person's body should. [...] Materialise designs custom 3D-printable implants, surgical guides, and other medical devices. It's waiting on approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for implants designed to fuse bones.
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We're Getting Closer To Mass Production of Bones, Organs, and Implants

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    I suppose that "organs" would include genitalia? Will this revolutionize the creation of transsexuals? For example, will a female-to-male transsexual be able to get a fully-functional penis capable of erecting on its own (without using pumps and embedded airbag technologies), and testes capable of producing actual sperm, grown for her in a laboratory? Will the same be possible for male-to-female transsexuals who want a fully functional set of vulva, vagina, uterus and ovaries?

    I could see applications for th

    • by gnick ( 1211984 )

      Suppose a man is born with micropenis syndrome. Could this technology be used to grow a new, larger penis for such an individual, which could replace his own small and perhaps useless micropenis?

      I'm, uh, asking for a friend.

    • by NaCh0 ( 6124 )

      What do you think the mass production of bones meant?

    • Suppose a man is born with micropenis syndrome. Could this technology be used to grow a new, larger penis for such an individual

      I think growing larger hands would be important for public appearances.

      There would also be some utility in growing a brain. A conscience. A soul.

    • by interkin3tic ( 1469267 ) on Friday April 28, 2017 @02:36PM (#54321379)
      No it's not yet because those things are more technically challenging. In genitals, you have dense arrays of nerves, pretty complex blood vessels, a bunch of "filler" tissue, the urethra, and skin. What is technically possible now is growing one type of cell or tissue, that's routine, with research starting to get into multiple types of cells grown together. Two different types of cells together gets much more complicated, and growing them together in a specific structure, rather than a random blend, at scales big enough to see without a microscope... that's beyond capabilities at the moment.

      On top of that, the focus remains on the simpler tissues for economic reasons. If you can grow a liver in a dish (Organovo's main focus) you can make billions testing drugs for safety. One of the most common reasons expensive drug candidates fail is they kill your liver, another common reason is that drug candidates get processed in the liver to become something toxic to somewhere else. Doing this testing in animals is hideously expensive, slow, and often not very good at actually predicting how it will do in humans. Testing in human cells in a dish would be much easier. Drug testing is extremely expensive but also necessary. So it's a huge market. Genital replacement on the other hand is pretty low-demand compared to that. So there's huge economic advantages to focusing on the simpler goal, much less in creating much more complex genitals.

      Genital repair should eventually be a goal though if we actually care at all about our soldiers [huffingtonpost.com] or those other unfortunate individuals you mentioned. It's worth serious consideration, this is no joke, and feel free to smack down anyone in the future who brings it up lightly by pointing out it's an important goal even though "LOL WEINERS." And people are definitely working on it. [technologyreview.com] Just it's not going to happen before we get livers in a dish.
      • by Anonymous Coward

        No it's not yet because those things are more technically challenging. In genitals, you have dense arrays of nerves, pretty complex blood vessels, a bunch of "filler" tissue, the urethra, and skin. What is technically possible now is growing one type of cell or tissue, that's routine, with research starting to get into multiple types of cells grown together.

        At the risk of sounding childish, I think breast implants would actually be an ideal candidate for this sort of thing. Lots of people already pay lots of money for them, so it's a proven market. Though many uses may be cosmetic, they can aid greatly in living a normal life after a mastectomy. Fake breast implants are NOT natural feeling, and often don't look natural either, so a natural augmentation would be great for all involved. The implanted part can be just a bunch of "filler" tissue, which this proces

        • Transplanting fat from other parts of the body to breasts is an established technology. Although the results might be more satisfactory than implants, the procedure is more risky.
        • Your "breast implants" were not a childish subject. Considering how many females lose their breasts to cancer every year. Not funny at all.. Serious stuff..
      • Livers are a smart choice because they're relatively simple - for an organ anyway. The overall structure isn't important, just the hepatocytes, a bunch of immune cells and lots of blood vessels.

          Also given the propensity for humans to trash their livers doing at-home toxicity testing (alcohol is the number one reason for liver transplants, acetaminophen is number 2) there is a huuuge market for replacements. Very clever for a startup.

        • I'd point out the structure at a microscopic level is important. It's not yet possible to set that up in a dish. The bile ducts and canniculi don't connect themselves into a functional network I think. Blood vessel formation in cultured liver tissues is also pretty rudimentary as of yet and doesn't make tissue that has proper blood flow. They're not getting liver samples in a dish that are close enough to functioning, at least as far as I've heard. But you're right that it does organize itself better than o
    • by Anonymous Coward

      I don't think we are going to get that far.

      Here's what we are going to get:
      Replacement organs and tissues, particularly hearts, lungs and livers.
      Replacement bones, or at least the equivalent of a crown or filling for a bone. Replacing an entire bone in a body likely will not be possible.

      For those undergoing gender corrective surgery, in the F2M direction they will not get a completely working penis, however they may be able to have a much more correct looking one (the issue right now is the lack of feeling,

    • Actually there was a penis transplant done recently on a cancer patient. To everyone's surprise it appeared to be a wild success, and it worked pretty well. Until the guy tried to actually use it and his wife was just too creeped out by the thing. (Maybe if she'd met the donor first... oh well.)
    • Hey! This just made me think of another angle. A second genitalia.. If one goes flat, you have another to use.
  • Although we'll likely never see this in the U.S. The current organ donation industry has plenty of money to hire lobbyists.
    • The "organ donation industry" is minuscule compared to big pharma who would be FOR this. As TFA says, "The company uses bioprinted tissue to test drug toxicity and effectiveness on behalf of Big Pharma companies including Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. and Merck & Co."

      Drug safety testing in animals is woefully inaccurate and terribly expensive compared to using human cells in a dish. This improving would really decrease their costs.

      ... anyway, really? Conspiracy theories about the organ donation industry
  • All that will happen is that rich people will get 10 and 12 inch penises.

    • You say that like it would be a bad thing.
    • Only if my wife gets a deeper vagina.

      More likely you'll get old rich people with suddenly youthful skin as they get theirs replaced when it starts wrinkling, sagging, and getting thin with age. And of course it'll be a massive (heh) boost for the breast augmentation industry.

      But first you'll see replacement livers, kidneys, pancreases, lungs, etc. New bones for serious trauma victims, maybe to replaced deformed bones, too.

      The real jump (not that these new technologies aren't already wonderful) will be whe

    • by PPH ( 736903 )

      Nope. I'm not trading mine in for a compact model.

    • Dude, the average vagina is six-and-a-half inches deep... and yes, it's muscle so it can be "pounded deeper" (takes a few weeks of "dating" to adjust and no, it's not necessarily comfortable) but you'd only need a ten or twelve incher if you're banging heffers with a thick layer of blubber that creates additional "virtual depth" (now you know why obese women dig black dudes). ;)
    • by rtb61 ( 674572 )

      All of it empty pipe dreams until you see artificial focusable lenses. Until the produce those, the very simplest of artificial organs, all of the rest is just delusion and pipe dreams. A clear deformable bag of semi rigid fluid and still years off.

  • Sooner or later I will need a knee replacement. It would be nice to have a tissue one instead of metal and plastic.
    • Sooner or later I will need a knee replacement. It would be nice to have a tissue one instead of metal and plastic.

      I could use one now. I tore a meniscus in my knee a couple years ago, and it's healed as much as it will - which isn't enough. Surgery options only involve cutting it out (which leaves the bones rubbing each other) or replacing the whole joint (which is not only inferior but doesn't last as long a my current life expectancy).

      Being able to drop in a replacement, grown from a printed scaffold o

      • Actually what you want is a new meniscus, not the whole shebang. And that is certainly a possibility. Again, it's fairly 'simple' - 'just' cartilage. The big issue is going to be testing. It's going to be years before the FDA approves this. They're going to have to find an animal model, run that for a while and then do human trials. And obviously, one of the primary things to look for is longevity. I doubt they will find a mouse model to work with. Need a bigger, slower growing critter.

        Probably will

  • Are we just pretending that "Bones", "Organs", and "Implants" and not mildly amusing when used together in the same sentence?

  • As an arthritis sufferer I am so ready for this. It can't come soon enough.

  • Scan through comments
    See mainly comments about growing penises as replacements or for gender reassignment

    Seriously, Slashdotters? With how much technology like this could improve the quality of life for so many, this is the first thing you think of? Shame on all of you.

  • Will we get to see it on 'How it's Made'?
  • Could end up being very interesting!
  • Medical researchers have been able to create certain kinds of living cells with 3D printers for more than a decade.

    I think they meant to say tissues, not cells. Printing living cells is a bit more advanced.

  • Should have a serious impact on the economy i guess
    will need at least 100 employees who are overtrained einstein-class geniuseses to operate and 50 more who are simply genius to clean out the rubbish bins. The rest can be done with printers but
    still a lifesaver yea

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