Monday, April 29, 2013

Could 3D printing save your life?

Andy Christensen is the president of Medical Modeling Inc. The company's focus is on creating three-dimensional X-rays, which can then be used to make  replacement body parts, including, for one, a “physical replica of someone’s hip.” In addition to often working better for the patient, creating a personalized replacement saves a lot of time and money in the surgical process.

There’s a whole other side of medical 3D printing as well: printing internal organs. This arm of the industry takes cultured cells and aims to create human tissue for organs such as livers and lungs. The days of saving a patient with a failing liver using their own cells aren’t here just yet but Keith Murphy, CEO of bioprinting firm Organovo, says someday this may be commonplace.

In the meantime, his firm is working on producing cells to help drug companies test and develop new medications. For instance, Organovo can produce a one-millimeter-thick layer of liver cells and then test new drugs for liver failure before they are ever introduced to a living human. In addition, the company can produce diseases in cells that allow doctors to develop new drugs without having to find a patient afflicted with the disease. Murphy hopes the technology his firm is developing can eventually be put into the hands of some of the world's leading medical researchers. Read more >>
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