Fierce Excerpts: The New Art of Science and 3-d Printing

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Now Reading | BMW Magazine

Anthony Atala, professor of regenerative medicine. Replacement organs are going to be science fact.

When I was reading through the BMW Magazine a few days ago, this little excerpt caught my attention and blew my mind. I am constantly amazed at what happens when art meets science.

Anthony Atala’s workplace houses what is no doubt the most unusual printer in the world: a 3-d inkjet printer whose cartridges are filled not with ink, but with human cells. Atala is director of the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine in North Carolina. With the help of that printer, his lab produces bones, skin, cartilage and even human organs. Purring quietly, the machine arranges microscopically thin layers from a variety of body cells and bio materials, yielding complicated patters that can be brought to life. A usable outer layer ear takes seven hours, a kidney a whole day. Unlike the ear, the kidney is not yet implantable – but this could chance in just a few years, according to Atala. With the aid of biotechnology, it will soon be possible to grow organs instead of transplanting them. This would mark the biggest medical revolution in the history of mankind: an end to waiting for donor organs and the beginning of an era in which organ failure no longer means a death sentence. If things go the way Atala wants them to, it will only come down to the speed of the printer.

Rock on.