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How does 3D printing technology help in cases of injuries and illnesses?

  Nov 29, 2016

How does 3D printing technology help in cases of injuries and illnesses?

Researchers are in the process of bioprinting tissues and organs to solve a many injuries and illnesses. Scientists are taking steps toward printing a working human heart. As part of this work, they are pioneering breakthroughs in printing human stem cells. The combination of these stem cells and 3D bioprinting is going to help repair or replace damaged human organs and tissues, improve surgeries, and ultimately give patients far better outcomes in dealing with a wide range of illnesses and injuries.

3D-Printed heart helped recently in a New York Hospital to save two-week-old baby without performing multiple operations. They made use of a 3D printed replica of the heart of the two-week-old baby born with congenital heart disease to study it and plan the surgery. This helped the team of surgeons to complete the surgery in just one operation, by practising surgery on the 3D-printed replica of the affected heart. Normally such problems required several operations. The 3D printed replica heart allowed the doctors to rehearse extremely complicated surgeries on the tiny heart, which is less than a third of the size of an adult hand. The 3D printed replica heart was not a living heart but just a dummy used as a reference. 

Presently, a few objects like heart valves and some small veins have been created by 3D printing using cells and it is too early to talk of a beating heart being created using 3D printing technology.

These developments could remove the ethical dilemmas associated with stem cells and potentially take regenerative medicine to new heights.