May 6, 2016

A SHOWER OF INNOVATIONS:

Well Before It Might Produce Hearts And Livers, 3D Bioprinting Is Reshaping Modern Medicine (ELIZABETH WHITMAN,m 05/06/16, IB Times)

Ibrahim Ozbolat loves his work so much that once he nearly sacrificed a finger for its sake. It was in 2007 or 2008, he recalled, when he was a student who had spent many hours straight in tunnel-like concentration on the 3D bioprinter before him.

Suddenly, his hand felt like it was being squeezed into a part of the machine. "I was about to lose my finger," Ozbolat remembered. He rushed to the doctor just in time, and a decade later, only a thin scar remains. Ozbolat, now an associate professor at the Huck Institutes of the Life Sciences at Pennsylvania State University, wears it like a badge of honor.

"This is dedication," he said.

Today, Ozbolat is in good company. Many others are staking a great deal, though perhaps not their extremities, on 3D bioprinting. Drawn by the promise of saving lives, healing people and tapping into the lucrative world of pharmaceuticals and medicine, academic researchers and biotech companies alike are flocking to this niche field, trying to usher it along a path toward the holy grail of printing solid organs like hearts or livers. Yet even their discoveries along the way are beginning to reshape and push the limits of modern medicine.

"There has been very large growth in terms of the applications that are being investigated, the printing systems that are available, as well as advances in scientific understanding," said Dr. Anthony Atala, director of the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Scientists can build models for surgery -- one of the least complex processes, Atala said -- or build tiny organoids of human cells that can be used for screening drugs. And that's just the beginning.

Posted by at May 6, 2016 3:59 PM

  

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