Here’s the first prediction about 3D printing for 2014: the very first working 3D printed liver is expected by the end of the upcoming year. San Diego based firm Organovo told Computerworld that its so-called bioprinting technology is expected to be working properly at the end of 2014.
This year’s November Organovo brought us the news that they were able to create a liver that could survive up to 40 days. However, it didn’t imply 3D printing organs and transplanting them into human bodies would become the next step any time soon. This is because organs such as the heart, liver and kidney need a network of blood vessels to work properly while 3D printing techniques are still unable to print out those vessels and integrate them with the human body.
Therefore, it will be used for other purposes such as scientific research and drug testing in order to make it possible to develop drugs a little faster. Organovo wants to sell its 3D printing technique to drug companies in order to help them reducing the costs of drug testing.
The company works with human tissues and living cells in order to create a new liver. Computerworld accurately describes the working process like this:
“Like other forms of 3D printing, bio-printing lays down layer after layer of material — in this case, live cells — to form a solid physical entity — in this case, human tissue. The major stumbling block in creating tissue continues to be manufacturing the vascular system needed to provide it with life-sustaining oxygen and nutrients. … Organovo, however, said it has overcome that vascular issue to a degree.”
Here’s a video by Organovo about this project. In this video you can see how it works: