Potential game-changer in transplants

U.S. & World

Robert Bowles, an assistant professor of biomedical engineering, says his team took a big step towards someday replacing damaged ligaments, tendons or ruptured disks for patients with new tissue printed from this 3D printer head.

Bowles, from the University of Utah, says, “And the next step is actually using it to produce some tissues and organs.”

Taking stem cells from the patients body fat and printing them on the collagen gel to form a tendon or ligament. The tissue grown in an incubator before being implanted.

According to Bowles, this “Would allow us to produce tendons and ligaments that can actually integrate into the body when a surgeon places them.”

Replacement tissues for patients without harvesting from other sites. A decade from now, doctors and biomedical engineers might create the knee ligament for an injured skier. In 15 years, Bowles says, they may be able to create a kidney or a liver for for somebody waiting for a transplant.

Which is a game-changer for Dax Francis, a kidney transplant patient who says, “That would be amazing and alleviate a lot of waiting for a lot of people.”

Incredible news for people like Francis who says, “It’s awful having to wait.”

Recently Francis was tuning up his golf game for the 2018 Transplant Games of America, hosted in Salt Lake City this past summer. He had a kidney transplant six years ago, but will need another one someday after his disease destroyed his current kidney.

Francis says, “Just having that possibility where there won’t be a wait at all in the future, for maybe not myself, but for someone who comes next, that’s huge.”

A biomedical development that gives hope to many patients awaiting organ transplants even if the solution is years away.

“Something like a 3D printed organ would be magical,” says Francis. “A dream come true for a lot of people.”

That research was recently published in the Journals of Engineering Methods. A big development for anybody waiting for transplants, not immediately, but great developments for all of us in the future.

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