What We Can Print Out In 3D In Medicine – The Medical Futurist
November 6, 2019
Let’s see what we can print out in 3D now. This is Bertalan Mesko and you’re watching the channel of The Medical Futurist. We are living in a 3D printing revolution. Companies such as Organovo or 3D Systems have made significant impact in the last few years. It might not be far away from the everyday
use that we can print out medical devices, equipment, then later biomaterials, tissues,
organs, cells and even drugs in the future. So let’s see what examples we see right now,
what we can print out in practice these day. The first 3D printers just became available
in large stores in the US. And now with blueprints behind that, more and more objects can be
printed out and there are more and more object scanners that we can use to create blueprints
of these objects in real life. But let’s start with even simpler things,
objects and medical equipment. There is an organization called Not Impossible Labs based
in California that took 3D printers to Sudan where the chaos of war has left many people
with amputated limbs. And now they can print out cheap prosthetics.
In a rural clinic in Bolivia, they can use a 3D printer to create customized prosthetics
in the same way. Regarding biomaterials, tissues with blood vessels, heart valve, bone, ear
cartilage, synthetic skin have already been printed out. And we will see more and more
examples as biomaterials being printed out in 3D.
A company called Organovo prints out liver tissues which are fully functional. These
fully functional liver tissues could be used for drug toxicity testing and now they have
a new partnership with the University of Yale to make sure that pharma companies could use
these liver tissues printed out in 3D for testing drugs rather than using animals in
the laboratories. Printing out transplantable human organs could
actually eradicate waiting lists forever. First we can expect to see simpler organs
like skin, heart, bladder printed out and then the more complicated ones.
But let’s focus on drugs. What if we could print out drugs in 3D. A Scottish group led
by Lee Cronin has been working on that. They want patients to go to the doctor, get the
prescription as a blueprint model about a drug, the right personalized drug and dosage
and the drug could be printed out in 3D at the pharmacy. A whole industry of pharmaceuticals
could change because of this new technology. As you can see 3D printing is one of those
trends or technologies that have the potential to dramatically transform the way we practice
medicine and deliver healthcare today. Read more stories about 3D printing in my
new book, The Guide to the Future of Medicine, and share what you think on the Facebook page
of The Medical Futurist! Thank you!