Free Smart Phone Healthcare Newsletter Want to receive the latest updates on smart phones, gadgets and technology for healthcare? Join thousands of healthcare pros who subscribe to Smart Phone HC for FREE!

Providing Blood to 3D Printed Organs

I’m sure we’ve all been intrigued by the progress that’s being made on 3D printing organs. If you’re like me, the idea blows you away when you see mention of it on Twitter or you see the concepts on a show like Grey’s Anatomy. The fact that we can 3D print an organ at all is astonishing and provides some really interesting opportunities for research. However, we’re quite a ways from actually being able to 3D print an organ that we can transplant into a human body.

Transplanting a 3D printed organ into a human body is indeed the holy grail of 3D printing organs. There are so many people who die every year as they wait on the organ transplant list (Side Note: Sign up to be a donor). If we could 3D print them an organ, we could possibly save thousands of people’s lives.

While TV shows and mentions on Twitter make it sound pretty easy, a deeper dive into the 3D printing of organs shows how complex the process really is to create a human organ that actually functions. This was incredibly illustrated by this article on 3DPrint.com that talks about the need to not only 3D print the organ, but also to create the vascular network that’s needed to furnish the organ with an ongoing blood supply. Here’s an excerpt from the article:

With that said, there is still one major hurdle to get us from the tiny sheets of 3D printed organ tissue, to that of entire 3D printed organs, which could one day be created by a patient’s own stem cells, and transplanted to save their life. That hurdle is the vascularisation of those organs. Every cell within a human organ, such as the liver, kidney or heart are within a hair’s width of a blood supply. This is an incredibly complex setup, one which up until now, researchers have found to be a nightmare to overcome when dealing with bioprinting. Without an adequate vascular network, the cells would be starved of oxygen, as well as a means to excrete waste, causing them to die and making the printed organs worthless.

The rest of the story is always more complex than the headlines. The great part is that in that same article the talk about some work by scientists from the Universities of Sydney, Harvard, Stanford and MIT working together to 3D print a network of stable capillaries. Even the description of the process is complex, but basically they’ve figured out a way to create tiny spaces where blood could flow.

Stories like this are extremely exciting, but also show just how far we have to go before we’ll be able to 3D print an organ. Really amazing work.

July 9, 2014 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

Moving Holograms – Star Wars Technology in Health Care

That’s right, the 3D hologram image that was made popular on Star Wars is now closer to becoming a reality. Plus, it doesn’t even require 3D glasses to see it. Here’s a quote from the story:

Remember the Star Wars scene in which R2D2 projects a three-dimensional image of a troubled Princess Leia delivering a call for help to Luke Skywalker and his allies? What used to be science fiction is now close to becoming reality thanks to a breakthrough in 3D holographic imaging technology developed at the University of Arizona College of Optical Sciences.

A team led by optical sciences professor Nasser Peyghambarian developed a new type of holographic telepresence that allows the projection of a three-dimensional, moving image without the need for special eyewear such as 3D glasses or other auxiliary devices. The technology is likely to take applications ranging from telemedicine, advertising, updatable 3D maps and entertainment to a new level.

“Holographic telepresence means we can record a three-dimensional image in one location and show it in another location, in real-time, anywhere in the world,” said Peyghambarian, who led the research effort.

The obvious connection to healthcare is in Telemedicine. You could have a 3D doctor in your house or they could see a 3D patient. That’s pretty cool to consider. I can’t wait for this type of technology to be widespread.

It’s amazing how many scientific discoveries have already been emulated in movies and TV shows like Star Wars and Star Trek.

March 10, 2011 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.