Printed human organs available soon, according to scientists

June 15, 2013 by  

Researchers from St Vincent’s Hospital in Melbourne, along with those from the University of Wollongong, are confident that custom-made 3D printed body parts such as nerve cells and muscle could be a reality within three years.

They anticipate the technology will allow the printing of entire human organs in a little over a decade.

Professor Gordon Wallace, ACES Director, said:

“It is already possible to print 3D biocompatible plastics and metals to manufacture patient-specific implants. Within a few years, we believe it will be possible to manufacture living tissues.”

Discussions are being held in Melbourne between Professor Wallac, medical manufacturers and prominent clinicians regarding additive fabrication – the ability to create 3D objects from digital information. It is hoped that the printing techniques will provide solutions to a variety of medical and surgical challenges, such as bionics, muscle and bone creation and epilepsy control.

Researchers are anticipating a huge boost with next month’s launch of St Vincent’s Melbourne hospital biofabrication unit. The facility will be the first in Australia to be situated on site in a hospital environment. The benefit of direct contact between clinicians and scientists should encourage fast tracking of useful 3D printed devices geared toward the creation of organs.

Printing technology continues to advance in leaps and bounds, creating a bridge between information and utility. Many print companies are excited to be part of the ongoing scientific and technological advances, especially when dovetailed toward improving the health and wellbeing of Melbourne hospital patients.