Grow Your Own…Blood Vessels?


Using your own stem cells—extracted from your fat or bone marrow—a San Diego company called Organovo is offering a $200,000 bioprinter that prints human tissue in 3D. While the current model, which ships this year, can only handle simple stuff like blood vessels, printing up whole organs is very close. From the always fascinating and jauntily written H+ magazine, notification that custom organ printing is upon us:

Yes, artificial organs… kidneys, esophagi, bladders, muscles, cartilage, ureters, glands, trachea, bone, breast lung, uterus, testes, nerves, livers, and even hearts. Need a new retina? Print one. Technovelgy points out that artificial organs have appeared in SF since Philip K. Dick wrote about artiforgs in his 1964 novel Cantata 140 (a.k.a. The Crack in Space) and Larry Niven described artificially-grown organs in his 1968 novel A Gift From Earth. Once again, science fiction is rapidly becoming science fact.

Ronald Bailey mentioned Organov's organ printing tech is his dispatch from the future earlier this week, but it's so cool that I thought it deserved a post of its own right here in the present.