A scientist dreams of an infinite factory of human organs


lung printing

United says it is building a new antimicrobial pig facility that will be ready by 2023 and support clinical trials starting next year. It’s not the fantastical commercial hog factory depicted in Rothblatt’s architectural renderings, but it’s a stepping stone to it. Eventually, Rothblatt said, one facility could transport organs across the country, delivering them via all-electric air ambulance. Over the summer, the aviation company he invested in, Beta Technologies, claims to have flown an electric lift plane from North Carolina to Arkansas, more than 1,000 miles away. sailors.

Ironically, pigs may never be the source of the lungs Rothblatt’s daughter needs. Indeed, the lungs are fragile and susceptible to immune attacks. In 2018, the results were announced. Each time the company added a new genetic modification to the pigs, the transplanted hearts and kidneys in the monkeys lasted an extra few weeks or months. But his lungs did not improve. After repeated transplants into monkeys, pig lungs last for two weeks and then suddenly fail.

“I believe there is no part of the body that cannot be 3D printed.”

Martin Rothblatt

To make lungs, Rothblatt is betting on a different approach, starting an “organ manufacturing” company that tries to make lungs with 3D printers. That effort is now underway in a former textile mill in Manchester, New Hampshire, where researchers are printing detailed lung models from biopolymers. The ultimate idea is to grow these structures with human cells, including (in one version of the technology) cells taken from actual patient tissue. These would be perfect matches with no risk of immune rejection.

Last spring, Rothblatt unveiled a set of printed “lungs” that he called “the most complex 3D printed object anywhere, anywhere, of any kind.” According to United, the football-sized sponge-like structure includes 4,000 kilometers of capillary channels, detailed spaces resembling lung sacs, and a total of 44 trillion “voxels,” or individual imprinted locations. The print was created using a technique called digital light processing, which works by shining a projector onto a pot of polymer that hardens where the light rays hit it. It takes some time to print such a detailed structure – three weeks, but the method allows you to create any shape, some of which are no more than one cell. Rothblatt compared the accuracy of the printing process to walking across the United States, and never more than a human hair’s width from the center line.

“I don’t think there’s a part of the body that can’t be 3D printed…including colons and brain tissue,” Rothblatt said during a June presentation of the printed lung scaffolds. At a meeting in California.

Some scientists wonder whether bioprinting remains a research project and whether inanimate polymers, however detailed, should be compared to a real organ. “It’s a long way to get from that to the lungs,” says Jennifer Lewis, who works on bioprinting at Harvard University. “I don’t want to rain on the parade, and there’s been a lot of investment, so some smart people will see something out of this. But, from my point of view, it was pretty public. Again, this is a prop. It’s good form, but it’s not a lung. Lewis and other researchers are interested in how real life can be incorporated into printed structures. Attaching human cells to a scaffold does not guarantee that they will become functional lung tissue with complex functions.

Rothblatt knows the skeptics and knows how difficult the technology can be. He knows others think it will never work. That doesn’t stop him. Rather, he sees it as the next opportunity to solve problems that others cannot. Speaking to surgeons this year, Rothblatt highlighted the challenges ahead, including growing the trillions of cells that would be needed. “As far as I know, it doesn’t violate the laws of physics,” he said, predicting that the first artificial lungs could be implanted in the human chest within this decade.

He ended his interview with a scene 2001: A Space Odyssey, where an ape-man throws a dice up and it flies off like a space station orbiting Earth. In addition to posting a picture of himself piloting a zero-carbon electric plane, Rothblatt says he will one day deliver unlimited organs across the country.

All news on the site does not represent the views of the site, but we automatically submit this news and translate it using software technology on the site, rather than a human editor.

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.