Print is back in fashion
March 8, 2016 1:20 PM   Subscribe

Yes please. Now do it for the nervous system!
posted by Soliloquy at 1:30 PM on March 8, 2016

Man, I will never get tired of living in the future.
posted by Etrigan at 1:31 PM on March 8, 2016 [7 favorites]

posted by MartinWisse at 1:39 PM on March 8, 2016

Incredible. One of the fears I have about organ transplantation (not that I expect to need a transplant, but it's a hypothetical for all of us, I suppose) is immune system suppression and graft vs. host. If we can move to a world in which our own tissue can be used to print a replacement organ, that would be a massive strike against waiting lists and immune system issues.
posted by Existential Dread at 1:44 PM on March 8, 2016 [1 favorite]

The discovery of the power of scaffolding has been one of the great advances in the past couple of decades of medicine. If we tried to grow organs the way that body does, to the right size and shape, it would be an incredibly complex series of signaling molecules and hormones and time delays. But - tada! - it turns out that you can just* build a scaffold, stick human cells in there, and it works. It's a massive simplification of the process. It's like the moment when we realized that a sewing machine can sew completely differently from the way a human does it and still get the same result.

*simplifying ever-so-slightly
posted by clawsoon at 1:47 PM on March 8, 2016 [3 favorites]

It's also ironic that we've mostly bypassed fibroblasts when building these scaffolds. They do the scaffold-building in the body, and they're one of the best-studied class of cells, and yet we were able to bypass all the painstakingly gathered knowledge we have about them and just build scaffolds directly.

(They are so well-studied precisely because they don't need a scaffold and grow easily in a petri dish, so they've been pored over for decades.)
posted by clawsoon at 1:59 PM on March 8, 2016 [4 favorites]

BRB working on my Wolverine claws design
posted by Halloween Jack at 2:25 PM on March 8, 2016 [1 favorite]

Printing at the molecular level? Is there a point in this procedure where we breathe the breath of life into this stuff?

I was born fifty years too soon.
posted by mule98J at 3:29 PM on March 8, 2016 [1 favorite]

Anytime anyone bitches about hoverboards and flying cars, this kind of shit right here is the first thing that springs to mind. Truly amazing.
posted by nevercalm at 6:59 AM on March 9, 2016 [2 favorites]

posted by 0bvious at 12:03 PM on March 9, 2016 [1 favorite]

Another step towards regenerated organs: Functional Heart Muscle Regenerated in Decellularized Human Hearts
posted by Existential Dread at 12:52 PM on March 11, 2016

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