Since implanting their brain cells into humans in an attempt to treat Parkinson’s, pigs have helped further lab research. Just like mice, they have undergone testing in order to advance the health industry. Now, a new development in gene editing may allow pig-to-human transplants sooner rather than later.
To combat [difficulties], a team from Harvard University and a private company, eGenesis, just created gene-edited pig clones that are completely free of… retroviruses. Now, without the threat of these hidden diseases, it may be possible to safely transplant pig livers, hearts, and other organs.
Simply raising genetically altered pigs could be the ultimate game-changer. However, there is always the risk of organs not being accepted into host bodies.
Emerging technologies, like the CRISPR-Cas9 system of gene editing fame, are getting researchers closer to rejection free transplants.
Alongside lab-growing piglets, researchers are also dabbling into bioprinting. Using a patient’s own cells, bioprinting makes the replication of organs, tissue, and bones possible. It looks like there is greater value to bacon after all.
3D printing is proving to be a force to be reckoned with. With it, researchers can produce anything from teeth to functioning hearts — and they’re not stopping there. An Australian public research university has found a way to treat brain diseases by 3D printing brain tissue.
The treatment is based on the 3D printing of tissue from human-induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs), which are stem cells that have the capability of differentiating into any type of adult cell, including brain cells.
With brain illnesses being the most difficult to treat, 3D printing can consider this one of its greatest successes. Anyone can donate iPSCs. Machines use a custom-designed bioink for printing.
“By developing this further we will be able to generate healthy and diseased tissues for research, identifying better drugs for medicine and replacing or repairing damaged tissues or organs due to injury or disease.”
The range of printable neurons can tackle conditions such as epilepsy and schizophrenia. While we cannot yet print entire brains, there is hope for transplantable organs.
“There’s no doubt that sometime in the future engineering tissues by bioprinting iPSCs will be routinely performed for surgical treatments of patients with damaged or diseased tissue,”
The tissue, which can also be used to screen new drugs, is surely a breakthrough for the books.
Though a relatively young concept, 3D printing has become the biggest trend of the decade–from building furniture to human body parts, it seems the possibility of a 3D-printed anything could eventually be on the market. This is because 3D printing is exponentially cheaper than using traditional machinery.
While I wouldn’t mind 3D printing an entirely brand-new wardrobe (in fact, I’d probably love it), I’ve always been somewhat of a skeptic when it comes to artificial organs. Most recently, 3D printing has been incorporated in creating blood vessels for alternative root canal treatments.
The findings are expected to have impact on root canal treatments which currently involves removing the tooth’s infected pulp and replacing it with a substance known as gutta-percha. This thermoplastic material is similar to rubber and is used to fill the inside of the tooth but cannot restore function since it removes the blood vessels.
The new approach uses pre-vascularized pulp-like tissue to promote dental pulp regeneration and allow for a better long-term treatment.
In layman’s terms, it is now possible to engineer blood vessels into extracted teeth.
Fabrication of artificial blood vessels can be a highly effective strategy for fully regenerating the function of teeth.
The dental industry holds much promise for 3D printing, although not typically on a biomedical sphere, as some see the technology as the future of crown production.
The Dubai Dental Authority plans to begin 3D printing teeth by the end of the year.
Remember kids–brush three times a day!