TED conference: Surgeon prints working kidney on stage

Anthony Atala, Director, Wake Forest Institute of Regenerative Medicine (Image credit: Wake Forest University)

The TED (Technology, Education, Design) conferences are globally recognised as being a ground breaking forum for sharing revolutionary ideas. Yesterday, Anthony Atala Director of the Wake Forest Institute of Regenerative Medicine printed a functioning kidney on stage at the current TED conference being held in California.

Atala explained the process whereby scanners build a 3-D image of the kidney, then a tissue sample smaller than a postage stamp was used to seed the process. The organ printer then built the kidney layer-by-layer, creating an almost perfect replica of the patient’s tissue.

This machine effectively eliminates the need for organ donors, and Luke Massella is living proof of the value of this organ printer. Massella received a printed kidney during experimental research a decade ago, he was 10 years old at the time. “Now, I’m in college and basically trying to live life like a normal kid,” said Massella, who was reunited with Atala at TED. “This surgery saved my life and made me who I am today.”

The need for kidney transplants far outweighs the supply. “There is a major health crisis today in terms of the shortage of organs,” Atala said. “Medicine has done a much better job of making us live longer, and as we age our organs don’t last.”

Atala’s team at the Wake Forest Institute has also developed techniques to grow muscles, blood vessels and bladders, amongst others.

Although this video is not yet available on the TED website, they have published one of Atala’s previous presentations in which he discusses the Wake Forest Institute’s previous advances in this cutting-edge field of medicine.

 

Anthony Atala presents organ printing technology in October 2009

Media Reports on Kidney Printing Inaccurate

Media Reports on Kidney Printing Inaccurate

Reports in the media that Dr. Anthony Atala printed a real kidney at the TED conference in Long Beach, Calif., are completely inaccurate. At the conference, Dr. Atala used a new type of technology to print a kidney-shaped mold and explained how one day – many years from now – the technology might be used to print actual organs.

At the conference, Atala was reunited with a former patient who received a laboratory-engineered bladder 10 years ago. News reports are incorrectly saying that he received a printed kidney.

Reports that bioprinting will eliminate the need for organ donation are also false. While this technology shows promise, it will be many years before it could be applied to patients.

http://assets.delvenetworks.com/player/loader.swf

This technology has the ability to print cells and biocompatible materials at the same time. The hope is that one day it will be used to print tissues and organs. This demonstration, in which a kidney-shaped mold is printed, shows how the technology works:

  • Cells and biomaterials are inserted in the printer cartridges.
  • A CT scan from a patient would be used to create a “map” to guide the printer.
  • The printer “prints” biocompatible materials that form the kidney shape.
  • While this mold has the shape of a kidney, it is not functional because it has none of the vessels or internal structures.
Advertisements

6 responses to “TED conference: Surgeon prints working kidney on stage

  1. Check facts at: http://www.wfubmc.edu/Research/WFIRM/Media-Reports-on-Kidney-Printing-Inaccurate.htm

    Reports in the media that Dr. Anthony Atala printed a real kidney at the TED conference in Long Beach, Calif., are completely inaccurate. At the conference, Dr. Atala used a new type of technology to print a kidney-shaped mold and explained how one day – many years from now – the technology might be used to print actual organs.

    At the conference, Atala was reunited with a former patient who received a laboratory-engineered bladder 10 years ago. News reports are incorrectly saying that he received a printed kidney.

    Reports that bioprinting will eliminate the need for organ donation are also false. While this technology shows promise, it will be many years before it could be applied to patients.

  2. Pingback: This takes “Custom Printing” to a whole new level. | CUSTOM TEASE!·

  3. Chris: the thing about the kidney is not that it is a simple organ; there is a lot of millions of very complex micro-structures within the kidney which filer/reabsorb/secrete things from the blood in a very specific way. The kidney also needs to maintain certain osmolarities (ion concentrations). What makes the kidney easy to transplant is the fact that it only needs 3 ‘hook-ups’ the renal artery, renal vein, and ureter. An organ like the liver might be easier to ‘print’ since most cells are the same with the exception of the ducts, but liver transplants are a bit more difficult because there are more vessels supporting it.

  4. Wow this is very interesting, I am surprised this is the first of heard of it since Lukes surgery was done 10 years ago. It is very encouraging but i dont know how well it will translate to organs with more complex attachments to the surrounding tissue and nervous system. I am also curious to know hoe the small sample of cells used to seed the organ manage to transform to recreate all the macro and micro structures within the kidney.
    I plan to look into this a bit more and may post what i find on my blog: locigalfactualscience.blogspot.com

  5. A friend of mine happened to get a new kidney this week, and I’m sure he’d much rather have had this option. Due to a rare blood type (AB-, I think), he’s been on the waiting list for 6 years, almost 2 of them spent getting dialysis every other day, so that he couldn’t even afford to have a full-time job. Even if printing an organ is expensive, it’s probably better than the time and money wasted just waiting around for someone to happen to have a spare for you.

    Until this technology comes into widespread use (and even then, I’m sure there’ll still be some more complex organs that can’t be replicated this way for a while still), I’d like to encourage people to register as organ donors.
    http://www.odf.org.za/

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s