Predictions as to when the first living, transplantable organs will be available has been the subject of much debate. However, according to a group of Russian scientists, the release of the first organs will be in 2015. The group has taken a little bit of a different approach since they will be starting with transplant-ready thyroid glands.
Researchers and scientists working with a company called 3D Bioprinting Solutions, located in the Skolkovo innovation center, right outside of Moscow, are allegedly making tremendous progress in the field of bioprinting functioning organs. They have chosen to start with the development of a bioprinted thyroid gland, hoping to create the world’s first 3D printed organ, using stem cells as the ‘ink’ for the printer. Because of the simplistic structure of the Thyroid, the researches feel that such an organ is the perfect starting point for what they hope will become a process capable of fabricating many different types of organs.
Headed up by Vladimir Mironov, the researchers at 3D Bioprinting Solutions intend to begin their initial experimentation with mice. The scientists have developed a specific technique for testing the success of these experiments. While the technology of three-dimensional organ bioprinting, which uses stem cells as the focus for growth of the organs; has been available for quite a while, this is the first such lab located in Russia.
The printer works by using stem cells which are created by utilizing fat cells within a patient. These cells are placed down layer by layer, and then they are transformed into an aggregation of cells that are known as spheroids. The hydrogel that is used in order for the cells to take shape then dissolves, leaving the printed organ. According to Mironov the rejection of such organs should be minimal, since they are made out of the patient’s own stem cells.
Experiments with thyroid glands are an important advancement in bioprinting. However, Mironov realizes the end game is still bioprinting kidneys. He points out “The one who will be the first to print and then successfully transplant the kidney to the patient, who will stay alive, will for sure get a Nobel prize.” He knows that, while working with the thyroid is important, many more people die from kidney failure then thyroid diseases.
The current state-of-the-art within bioprinting, forces scientists to print organs with successive layers of cells because of the effect of gravity. However, the Russian scientists believe that if the process is done in a weightless environment, the desired organ can be developed using a special magnetic field which will result in more predictable results. Thus the group has already entered into an agreement for these types of tests aboard the International Space Station.
Vladimir Mironov, Chief Scientific Officer of 3D Bioprinting Solutions says that technology is developing very fast and believes that bioprinting of complex organs such as kidney could be possible in 2018. But what about the thyroid they promise in 2015? According to Mironov, they can tell exactly when their “revolutionary” technology will be unveiled. So get your calendars out, he is advising that you will see bioprinted thyroids available on March 15, 2015.
It will certainly be interesting to see if 3D Bioprinting Solutions can follow through with their current timeline, and if other companies as well, come close to printing organs within the next couple of years. We are living in incredibly exciting times thanks to the rapid development of new technologies. Let us know your thoughts on 3D Bioprinting Solutions’ predicted timeline for bioprinted organs. Discuss in the 3D Printed Thyroid Gland forum thread on 3DPB.comrt.com]