The first 3D printed organ, a human liver, expected in 2014

“Approximately 18 people die every day waiting for an organ transplant. But that may change someday sooner than you think — thanks to 3D printing,” Lucas Mearian reports for Computerworld. “Advances in the 3D printing of human tissue have moved fast enough that San Diego-based bio-printing company Organovo now expects to unveil the world’s first printed organ — a human liver — next year. ‘We have achieved thicknesses of greater than 500 microns, and have maintained liver tissue in a fully functional state with native phenotypic behavior for at least 40 days,’ said Mike Renard, Organovo’s executive vice president of commercial operations.”

“Organovo’s researchers were able to bring together fibroblasts and endothelial cells, which perform the function of developing tiny vascular networks, allowing the company to achieve thick tissue with good cell viability,” Mearian reports. “The liver tissue model that Organovo plans to release next year is for research use only and will be used in the laboratory for medical studies and drug research. That’s important in its own right: Developing a new drug costs, on average, $1.2 billion and takes 12 years.”

“The creation of a viable liver is a watershed moment for the bio-printing industry and medicine because it proves 3D printed tissue can be kept alive long enough to test the effects of drugs on it or implant it in a human body where it can further develop,” Mearian reports. “To spur on the development of bio-printed organs, the Methuselah Foundation, a Springfield, Va.-based not-for-profit that supports regenerative medicine research, this month announced a $1 million prize for the first organization to print a fully functioning liver.”

“While it may be a decade or more before human trials for organ transplants are approved by the FDA, the creation of organ tissue still holds the prospect of revolutionizing medicine. Printing out sustainable organ tissue could allow pharmaceutical companies to develop and test drugs on human and not animal organs. Using human tissue yields more accurate results,” Mearian reports. “Researchers are now experimenting with laying down a thin layer of human tissue from any number of organs for pharmaceutical development. The process is known as creating an ‘organ on a chip’ or a ‘human on a chip.’ …Earlier this year, researchers at Princeton University created a functional ear using a modified $1,000 ink-jet printer. They said the ear they created has the potential to hear radio frequencies far beyond the range of normal human capability because the tissue was combined with electronics as it grew in a petri dish.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: They should print out a brain for Ballmer.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Bill” for the heads up.]


  1. Printing a brain for Ballmer would not solve his problem. Even with a brain they still would need a lot more room up there than Ballmer has with that thick skull of his.

  2. What would be the point? He is clever enough to have initiated his exit on his own terms.
    Now if you suggested a duplicate of his brain so that it can be transferred to the incoming CEO, I would be all for it, since we all know that Mr. Steve Ballmer is the best CEO Apple inc. never had!!!

  3. Normally, I would rant about how this generation, since about the year 2000 or so, was a bunch of entitled, spoiled brats, and how us children of the 1980s were more well behaved, but after seeing this, I may reconsider. This is some very sci-fi stuff and I remembered seeing something like this in the 2007 docudrama “2057”. They said that within 50 years, we would have things like 3D printed organs and other things like that. That documentary is only 6 years old. If we can accomplish so much in only 6 years, then I may have hope for this generation.

      1. As a practicing toddler in my mind, I get all the amusement I need by throwing all my toys out of the pram and watching my parents and their friends pick them up and put them back in the pram!
        MDN is simply throwing back in all the toys that we bloggers throw out to our utter amusement!! 🙂
        Life is much to short Joey, perhaps it is time you left the shelter of your mothers pouch!

    1. Actually it does have something to do with Apple, since OUR Steve’s death had to do with Pancreatic cancer and a Liver transplant. That was the first thing I thought of when I saw the headline. Too late for Steve Jobs damn it.

  4. I agree, but for different reasons. To print a healthy functional brain would be one of the greatest achievements of man since landing on the moon and could happen in our lifetime!

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