Could We Make New Organs?

Research is making impressive advances in using 3-D printing to fabricate living tissues, but it will be years before we can transplant printed organs into human beings.

Right now, more than 120,000 people in the United States require an organ transplant to survive, but there are far fewer donors—in January, for instance, only 2,577 transplants were performed. That’s why some scientists have been exploring the prospect of using 3-D printing or related technologies to make organs in a matter of days. Not only would this shrink the gap between supply and demand, but it could eliminate the need for donors altogether. And if built using a patient’s own cells, printable organs could also reduce the risk of transplant rejection.

Scientists are not close to this goal, but they are making steps in the right direction—such as printing accurate models of organ shapes and building passages for blood flow.


Research into printable organs falls within the broader field of bioprinting: the printing of any living structure made of cells. The most basic level of organ design begins with very thin, printed tissue that can be used to create a scaffold, a model of an organ that can’t yet function on its own but is more than just a plastic replica. In their early days, printed scaffolds were made from a synthetic material, and living cells were added later. But in the early 2000s, Anthony Atala, director of the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine, helped streamline this process by developing a 3-D printer that could deposit the rubbery, synthetic model with tissue already layered on.

As bioprinting research pushes forward, the major challenge is no longer just creating these organlike structures but, rather, keeping them alive. Cells are incorporated into bio-inks that are printed layer by layer to create a swath of living tissue. It’s the same idea behind the back-and-forth motion of an ink cartridge in a traditional printer. But only cells printed on the outermost layers of the tissue can freely access oxygen and expel waste—processes vital to cell survival. Cells on the innermost layers suffocate and die.

The solution is to print not just a scaffold but also a tissue’s vasculature—a system of increasingly small pathways that can reach the innermost layers of cells, delivering blood and oxygen and carrying away waste.

Incremental progress

In 2014, Jennifer Lewis, a professor of biologically inspired engineering at Harvard University, successfully began printing vasculature in her lab. The main focus of Lewis’s research for now is on using 3-D-printed tissue equipped with blood vessels to test potential drugs for chemical toxicity in living tissue.

In hopes of making another step toward printing a fully functioning organ, Lewis is working on printing small regions of organs. Right now, she’s designing nephrons, the tiny units that make up the kidney: they allow the organ to remove waste from the body and filter blood, among other vital processes. Before Lewis can print a kidney, she has to figure out how to print a single nephron. But that “is at best still only a millionth of a kidney,” she cautions. “That’s the scale that this field is at right now.”

“I personally believe that at this point in history, organ printing is like a moon shot,” Lewis says. “We should drive toward that goal, no question about it, but we’re far away. We’re really far away.”


3-D-Printed Skin Leads the Way Toward Artificial Organs

Researchers claim that additive manufacturing can now produce functional skin, and the first internal organs may be ready within six years.

The initial hype surrounding 3-D printing may have started to fade, but researchers using the technique to create living tissue are showing encouraging results.

3-D printing parts of our anatomy is not a new idea. The basic premise: insert the correct cells into a polymer or gel, print them out into a 3-D structure, and then allow the cells to grow into a living entity. If such a feat can be achieved, it could provide a supply of organs for transplant patients and remove the need for donors.

This week, Spanish scientists from Madrid have published researchdescribing new hardware that’s capable of printing functional human skin. The device creates the individual layers of skin, such as the dermis and epidermis, one atop the other. It does that by depositing plasma containing skin cells into precise geometries that allow the cells to flourish.

The researchers claim that the end results will be suitable for both transplantation and lab testing of new products. Initial transplants into mice also suggest that it’s safe, though the synthetic skin has yet to be approved for use in humans. Other organizations, such as L’Oreal, are also attempting to create skin using similar approaches.

But while this success lines up alongside other notable achievements, such as creating blood vessels and even synthetic ovaries for mice, 3-D-printing techniques have yet to yield entire organs for use in humans. That’s largely because printing cells in complex geometries without killing them remains difficult. Because it is flat and neatly layered, skin lends itself to printing—but rendering a heart is rather more difficult.

So just how far away from 3-D-printed human organs are we, exactly? The Economist has just taken a look at the entire bio-printing landscape to establish that. It suggests that recent advances in producing some of the more simple organs mean that the first 3-D-printed livers and kidneys for human transplant could flop out of a device within the next six years.

NASA Recorded Sound In Space. What You’re About To Hear Is Absolutely Chilling!

Sci-fi movies are often times criticized when explosions in the void make noise. I am sure you have heard the old saying, “in space, no one can hear you scream.”

People think that because there is no air there is no sound, but certain videos released by NASA tell a different story. Space is a virtual vacuum…. However, sound does exist in the form of electromagnetic vibrations that pulsate in similar wavelengths.

NASA has designed special instruments that can record electromagnetic vibrations, and transfer them into sounds that out ears can hear.

 The sounds you are about to hear are all organic, nothing has been added for effect. The result is beautiful, yet haunting, music that Hans Zimmer would be jealous of.

Saturn’s Rings






Rings of Uranus


I do not know about you, but those gave me chills!