We live in a world where uncertainty is the only guarantee we get as mortals. We struggle for our daily bread and run along the mad rat race that never has an end. Ultimately, we land compromising on our health for things which have to be given negligible importance. We don’t pay heed until our issues blow up and stand as enormous giants and demands our attention. This is when we realize how much of strain, stress and pressure our body has sucked in to keep us going. When we arrive at this point where our body just gives in, we try everything humanly possible to cure ourselves. Such dire necessities have led to great inventions and innovations in the field of medicine. One such breakthrough was the emergence of bioprinting.
Bioprinting, a technological concept which creates new tissues and organs, is a budding technique which can be a game changer in many lives for a promising future. The process replicates cell patterns of any human tissue, fed into it for reference, to produce artificial tissues or organs using sample from the actually organ itself. The process is of three steps – Pre-bioprinting, bioprinting and post-bioprinting.
This is more of a prep phase where a model is of primary requirement for constructing an artificial tissue or organ. This model can simply be got from a CT scan (Computational Tomography) and an MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging). Next would be to get a biopsy of the tissue or organ to be replicated, as these cells act as the ink in normal inkjet printers. The cells are combined with scaffolds like hydrogel, to fill in the space between the cells and also binds them together.
Once the ink (cells) is ready, they are placed in one head and the cell dish on the other. The printing is done in a layer-by-layer fashion in the cell dish. The cells in combination with the hydrogel are left for incubation for the cells to attain maturity and for further cells to grow. The hydrogel also facilitates the cells with the essential nutrients for growth.
Once bioprinting is done, it is vital to keep the bioprinted product stable which is taken care off in post-bioprinting. If this fails, the structural and functional integrity of the product is lost. Hence stability is maintained with at most care and cautiousness with the aid of chemical and mechanical stimulations which monitor remodeling and tissue growth. Off late, bioreactors of various types are also being used to improvise on the grounds of stability.
This complex concept was made a reality and thought to be achievable once a prototype of the human kidney was achieved. Yet there are many hinges in achieving a completely functional organ as the human body itself is compartmentalized and comprises of enormous numbers and types of cells within an organ. This brings about struggles in printing out organs and multilayered tissues in the current scenario. If this concept breaks through all the barriers it faces and the scientists are able to bring in bioprinted products, it would completely revolutionize medicine. These products could be made use off for transplanting, grafting, clinical trials, bypass etc.
Once the technology reaches the advancement it requires to supply the patients with artificially grown organ with their own cells, no patient requiring a transplant would go unattended to. The chances of survival would also increase to a drastic extent as the cells are directly got from the patient and organ rejection would be pulled down.
Skin grafting, an age old practice for treating patients with burns, use skin tissues mostly got from another part of the patient without any infection of damage. This invasive procedure could be terminated as well. There would be no burn marks as well as the necessity for a cosmetic surgery would be ruled out.
Obtaining tissues and valves from animals would also come to a halt. Likewise, arteries and veins can be made for patients suffering blockages in their circulatory system.
With the growing number of diseases and disorders, there is a never ending want for new drugs in the market. Every new drug introduced, undergoes rigorous scrutiny by subjecting the drugs to test on both animals and humans. These tests could be instead performed on these bioprinted products which would act as a replica of human cells.
MEAT AND OTHER PRODUCTS:
Why kill animals for meat when we can prepare our own meat? Instead of opting to kill animals and have as food, their cells can be utilized to prepare meat chunks for consumption as well. This would minimize the number of animals butchered for meat or even reduce it to zero. Artificial animal hides can also be synthesized to aid to the growing leather demands.
When it comes to the question of spreading far and wide for treatment purposes, patenting may stand as a hurdle. Intellectual property is an asset which has to be treasured, but considering the number of lives a product can save, one must put into consideration spreading it without expecting single direction monitory benefits. Many are being denied the right to be given another chance. Increased medical expenses cannot be met by everyone, making it difficult for people to afford sophisticated treatment which can cure them. If not patented the masses benefitted would be more. Let’s act humane once instead of running behind an object which doesn’t have life. For all you may know, one day we may even replicate the organ that has kept us mind boggled for so many decades – the human brain.