MASSDEVICE ON CALL — New 3D printing technology has captured imaginations from NASA labs to art studios, but so-called "bio-printing" may be the revolution with the greatest direct human impact.
San Diego, Calif.-based Organovo Holdings’ bio-printer is making its start in 3D-printed diagnostic assays, but the future holds much bigger things. Organovo’s assays allow pharmaceutical companies to more thoroughly test liver toxicity, possibly avoiding costly delays or failures in new drug development, but those liver assays are a pathway to full-organ printing of the liver as well as other organs, Daily Finance reported.
Researchers can already bio-print living cells to make stem cell grafts, but those techniques and technologies could eventually help join nerves and muscles for more comprehensive and refined prosthetics. Prosthetics makers may one day print custom prosthetics from biomaterials or hybrid bio-mechanical systems.
Printing actual stem cells, instead of harvesting them, could further reduce the cost of stem-cell based therapies, expanding research and therapeutic use.
Medical devices manufactured by 3D printers have already made their entrance on the market with skull fragments, home-made plastic prosthetics and other preliminary technologies. The FDA earlier this year approved Tissue Regeneration Systems’ 3D-printed cranial bone void fillers, the 1st 3D-printed skeletal reconstruction implant to get a green light in the U.S.
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