The future of medicine will be two-pronged: Personalized and regenerative. Personalized medicine will be accomplished with Big Data analytics, such as DNA sequencing and metabolomics. Regenerative medicine will be made manifest through advances in stem cell technologies and 3D printing.
Regenerative medicine is particularly urgent because the demand for organs far outstrips supply. Worldwide, millions of people are on organ waitlists, and thousands die because an organ never becomes available. Ultimately, therefore, the goal of regenerative medicine will be to grow entirely new organs on demand using a patient’s own cells. The future of this technology was recently discussed by Prachi Patel in the journal ACS Central Science.
Many challenges lay ahead. To create organs, several different tissues must be arranged in a particular architecture and properly nourished with blood vessels. As a result, flat organs (e.g., skin) will be the easiest to produce, hollow organs (e.g., the bladder) will be trickier, and solid organs (e.g., heart and kidneys) will be the most difficult. Still, within a decade, we may see the advent of “tissue patches” to repair failing organs.
To learn more about this, as well as the type of “bioink” and manufacturing processes needed to make 3D printing of organs a reality, we highly recommend Ms. Patel’s article.