Tag Archives: medicine

Printing Organs

I’ve loved the idea of 3d printing for a long time. I’ve followed the RepRap for a while. Open Source Hardware strikes me as a compelling idea – anybody who has read Feynman’s memoirs knows that playing with building thinds is important for any young scientist.

Well, here’s a new awesome application to the idea of printed 3d materials: printing organs. The idea is that a computer prints a scaffold impregnated with human cells which then grow into the desired organ which is then implanted. The current state-of-the-art is printed veins, but other things are coming soon!


Wired article on a 1982 artificial heart

Wired has an article today on the first use of an artificial heart back in 1982. The patient survived for 112 days – pretty remarkable. I wonder if he felt any unnatural urges toward appliances… robot love, as it were. I doubt it. It sounds like it was a pretty miserable 112 days. I suspect that subtle emotional changes toward toasters… or uncomfortable fantasies about R2-D2… were secondary concerns.

Despite the derision with which the heart’s mystical associations have been dismissed, it’s a rather complex organ with a great many feedback mechanisms to keep it precisely regulated. We’ve come a long way in 30 years. In addition to thinking in terms of an improved plastic pump, there is a lot of thought going into manipulating stem cells to make new hearts from meat, the way nature intended.