What do you get when you put plastic or metal into a 3-D printer? Often something like aerospace equipment, a prototype, toy or, perhaps, a mold of Stephen Colbert’s head. But put in live cells, proteins and other biomaterials, and the result could be a human organ.
There are, however, still more than 114,000 people in the United States alone who need kidneys, livers or hearts – more complex organs that require an entire internal vascular network to sustain them. Waiting for these organs takes the lives of about 18 people per day.
But what if the organs needed only to be printed? It sounds like science fiction, but this is a future many prominent research groups foresee, and are hard at work trying to achieve.