3D printing still might sound like something out of a science fiction movie to some people, but the technology is gaining momentum. In some instances, it also has the potential to save lives. For the first time ever, scientists at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh have printed 3D embryonic stem cells. This has the potential to replace the need for organ donations and even animal drug testing.
The process is different than other 3D cell printing attempts in that it prints delicate cultures of embryonic cells. Before this, printing could only handle producing a 2D cell or a cell that is already tougher than a human cell.
“To the best of our knowledge, this is the first time that these cells have been 3D printed,” said Dr. Will Shu, one of the researchers on the project. “This technique will allow us to create more accurate human tissue models which are essential to in vitro drug development and toxicity-testing.”
He sees this process being used in the future to create viable organs from a patient’s own cells for implantation, eliminating the health risks and waiting lists associated with organ donation.
Could you imagine a time where organ donation is no longer needed because doctors could create a replica of someone’s kidney on demand? Kind of hard to believe, but that is the future.