2011 TED conference created a ripple when Dr Atala showcased his and his teams first 3D printed kidney. There was a wide spread shock about how 3D printing now will also successfully print human organs. To a great extent, even false rumors started gaining momentum, saying that the surgeon had actually held a live kidney. Next, there was a wild fire on how a Chinese research team at Hangzhou Dianzi University of Electronic Science and Technology had used 3D printing technology for creating a mass of living cells, and that too in the shape of a kidney. Organ transplantation is the largest medical service that people avail of, as we have often seen and heard of people suffering from kidney failure and that now has become a very common and if in times to come our scientist are successful in creating a 3D printed kidney then this invention will definitely be a boon to mankind.
3D printed organs will definitely increase the life span of the coming generation, but how far in future are we going to see this, only time will tell. Even as we see today, this printing technology has definitely given a huge push to bio printing that in turn is working towards creating replacement organs. But, will these organs be suitable for transplantation? We still need to find out. Our researchers are hoping that the latest technology in 3D printing uses living human cells to make replacement organs, especially organs like liver, kidney and heart which are maximum in demand for organ replacement.
If we are to believe our known pioneer of using 3D printing in medical science, DrTony Alta, the truly amazing researcher who is also the one behind the whole concept of creating replacement organs. He has in 1999 successfully implanted tissue engineered bladders into 7 people. He now focuses and has full faith in building a 3D kidney that can be used for successful kidney transplants. Though on the face of it, 3D seems to have bypassed all limitations. But quite contrary to all we have read and seen, Stuart Williams of Cardiovascular Innovation Institute disagrees as he has stated that they are printing the shape of the kidney, but printing it using individual cells has not been achieved and that can be one of the limitations of 3D printing.
According to him, even the finest and the most up-to-date Gen-next 3D printers won't be able to print human cells that are individual in nature and that can match as well as deal with the real life complexities of human organs. Similar reason why 3D printing even failed at their attempt to build a network of blood vessels, which are needed to keep the organs healthy and working.
Our kidney had many small and tiny structures that allow the organ to filter out the waste from the blood, turn the waste into urine and send it to the bladder. To create a 3D replica of this, is a huge challenge for 3D printing industry. Though, in the coming 15-20 years, we may see a 3D replacement organ. But for now, the 3D miniature organs that have been created would be used for drug testing by the labs. This would definitely help in the evolution of better and more efficient drugs for human life and their drug trials on replacement 3D organs is way more ethical that their trials on innocent animals.