The International Space Station, ISS – has come together with the University of Pittsburgh’s McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine to explore the possibility of creating 3D-printed human organs in space. If the study is successful it would revolutionize the fight against diseases.
The project will focus on creating organs in space using stem cells with the hope that new research will pave the way for 3D-printed organs.
Willia Wagner; the director for the University of Pittsburgh’s McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine, will lead a team in charge of the development of facilities on Earth. For their part, the ISS’ U.S National Laboratory will conduct experiments on the samples in the orbiting lab.
“There’s been a lot of neat discovery science done on the space station, let’s see what happens when we put stem cells in space.” – William Wagner
According to Wagner, one of the possible early applications of 3D-printing in the biomedical industry would be the creation of miniature versions of full-sized organs. These mini versions which can handle a portion of real organs’ functions, can then be used to analyze how that organ is affected by certain diseases. As a result, pharmaceutical groups could turn to these 3D-printed organs to develop drugs designed to combat specific diseases.
Another more straightforward application would be the creation of replacement organs, solving the problem of donor shortages. Wagner hopes that the upcoming project, as well as future research regarding 3D-printed organs, will gain financial support needed in order to push through and succeed. The impossible could now be achieved thanks to 3D printing.