Scientists Are Working On A 'Puzzle Piece' That Could Make 3D-Printed Organs A Reality

"Without functioning capillary structures, it is impossible to make organs."

According to the United Network of Organ Sharing, every 10 minutes, someone is added to the national transplant waiting list. A group of scientists is working around the clock to produce a solution that may shorten that list substantially: 3D-printed human organs.

It may sound like science fiction, but per a report from TechCrunch, MBC Biolabs  has partnered with Prellis Biologics, a startup in San Francisco, to develop a new technology that is pushing the concept of 3D-printed organs to completion.

Prellis Biologics was founded by Melanie Matheu and Noelle Mullin in 2016. With a $3 million investment, they were able to create a technology that can manufacture capillaries. 

"Without functioning capillary structures, it is impossible to make organs," Matheu told TechCrunch. "They're the most vital piece of the puzzle in the quest to print viable hearts, livers, kidneys and lungs." 

 Prellis recently published literature stating that 3D-printed organs might be possible within the next five years, a "revolutionary" possibility. Their goal is to print the vascular system of a kidney in record time. 

"The speed we can achieve is limited only by the configuration of the optical system,"  Matheu said in an interview with the New Atlas. "We are now exploring custom optical system development, which will dramatically increase our capabilities. Our ultimate goal is to print the entire vascular system of a kidney in 12 hours or less."

So yes, it sounds like science fiction. But it's science fiction that could lower treatment costs and reduce waiting time — and, it could just become a reality.

Cover image via Scharfsinn / Shutterstock.

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