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Thanks for the memories  July 26, 2012

3D-printed organs to help transplant patients?

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CNET Editor

Michelle Starr is the tiger force at the core of all things. She also writes about cool stuff and apps as CNET Australia's Crave editor. But mostly the tiger force thing.

(Heart frontally PDA image by Ekko, public domain)

A partnership between 3D design software company Autodesk and 3D bioprinter Organovo is working toward 3D printing organs out of human tissue.

CAD is usually used in architecture, engineering and product design — but why should its applications end there? Why not use it to design living tissue?

That's exactly what Autodesk and Organovo are trying to do. The two companies have come together to use their combined technologies to help ease long transplant waiting lists — Autodesk with its design tools, Organovo with its bioprinters that work with human tissue.

It sounds fantastic, but the relatively new technology (arriving 2010) is not without its limitations — namely in the software department, which is seriously lacking, requiring scientists to write a new script every time they want to print something.

Autodesk's 3D design software will allow experiments to run a lot faster.

That doesn't mean we're going to be seeing 3D-printed organs hitting hospitals any time soon, though. The two companies first have to figure out how to do so — and full organs are likely decades away. However, if we're lucky, printed tissues may be ready for clinical trials in five or six years — an extremely fast turnover, according to Wired.

Perhaps they should have a talk with Dr Anthony Atala.


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