The Loh Down On Science

Inkjet Heart

Japanese researchers are using inkjet printer to make human organs.

Forget the Wizard! Soon the Tinman can make his OWN heart!

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science

and a bioengineering triumph.

Meet Makoto Nakamura of Japan's Kanagawa Academy of Science and Technology. He's using an inkjet printer to PRINT human organs.

So far, Nakamura has used the new technology, called bioprinting, to build a tube made of living cells. Think. . . blood vessel.

One human cell is about the same size as a drop of ink from a standard inkjet printer--one one-hundredth of a millimeter. Makes the printer perfect for depositing cells.

The printer's ink cartridge is divided into different sections containing different colored ink. Instead of colors, Nakamura loaded the sections with various types of cells. In one, he put endothelial cells, which line the inside of blood vessels. In another, the smooth muscle cells that form the vessels' outsides.

Simply File, Print.

LIFE!

Well, not quite yet, but Nakamura says bioprinted organs, like hearts, could be available for transplantation within twenty years. I just hope they can fix the paper jams. And where IS the IT guy when you need him? Just asking.


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