3D-printed, electricity-generating “super organs” are not that far fetched

Bioprinting has emerged as one of the more exciting medical technologies of the last year or two. Although, these 3D printers which print out human cells, in order to form actual living tissue, are not directly saving lives yet, in the very near future they will be. Already, we are seeing bioprinted tissue being used in drug toxicity tests, allowing pharmaceutical companies to save money and possibly the health of test subjects, during clinical studies. The progress that we have seen, within the bioprinting space over a matter of a few short years, has been nothing short of amazing. Within the next 5-7 years the technology should have matured enough that we will begin seeing some very impressive applications.

Bioprinting technology is advancing so quickly that some scientists believe 3D printing an entire artificial human organ is only five to ten years off. That alone is pretty bonkers, science-wise, and could save many lives. But why stop there? Once you start talking about manufacturing body parts, the inevitable lurking question is: Can we go beyond just mimicking biology to make technologically improved humans? At least one scientist, Ibrahim Ozbolat from the University of Iowa, believes that 3D bioprinting will pave the road to this posthuman future. “There might be some brand new organ that doesn’t exist in the human body, but it can be transplanted in the human body to enhance the functionality,” Ozbolat said in an interview with HuffPost Live this week. In other words, simply replacing failed organs is thinking small. Bioprinted enhanced organs—or artificial ones that don’t exist in nature—can be engineered to perform specific, useful functions, such as treating disease. “You can bioprint “an organ that is going to be part of the human body and generate electricity that can run the heart.”​

What do you think?

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Written by Lorie Wimble

Lorie is the "Liberal Voice" of Conservative Haven, a political blog, and has 2 astounding children. Find her on Twitter.

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