Printing the Philosopher’s Stone
3D printing could be the key to unlocking immortality
Until recently, Pancreatic Cancer was largely considered a death sentence. But, thanks to advances in nanotechnology, 3D printing, and stem cell research, the narrative is rapidly changing. When Sydney artist, Clive Tucker, was given the chance to be part of a cutting-edge treatment trial, he jumped at the opportunity. Now, six months after his successful organ transplant, he is back on the local art scene and making waves.
Diagnosed in June 2028 with stage 3 Pancreatic Cancer, Tucker immediately began aggressive chemo- and radiation-therapy but saw limited results. When his oncologist contacted him about a trial involving stem cells harvested from healthy tissue, nanotechnology, and 3D printed organs, Tucker was initially skeptical.
As one of a thousand trial participants worldwide, Tucker spent several months in a specialist facility where all the procedures were carried out, including the simultaneous pancreas and kidney transplant. Stem cells are harvested from healthy bone marrow tissue, then transferred to a bioreactor for further cultivation. Once cultivated, the stem cells are mixed with bioprinter ink and, using an innovative nanotech-based ink distribution system, are used to print replacement organs.
The 3D printed organs were successfully transplanted in March this year, after which Tucker spent several weeks being monitored at the facility before being transferred to a Sydney convalescent home for the remainder of his recovery.
The initial trial recorded an extremely positive 78% success rate, with only 220 of the 1,000 patients experiencing post-transplant complications, ranging from infection and post-transplant diabetes, to rejection, which was recorded in only 29 cases. Statistically speaking, a 2.9% rejection rate is significantly lower than normal, most likely because of the organ being grown from the recipient’s own stem cells.
With the success of this experiment, several additional trials are planned for the next two years, including liver and lung transplants. With future success in 3D printed organ replacements all but guaranteed, immortality seems that much closer at hand.
Links to related stories
- Researchers develop unique 3D printed system for harvesting stem cells from bioreactors – PhysOrg, June 2022
- Nanotech breakthrough prints human tissue from stem cells – Impact Lab, 27 June 2022
- New tissue engineering process brings laboratory-grown organs one step closer – Drug Target Review, 19 January 2021
- Mindbullet: Too old to Rock ‘n Roll, but too young to die (Dateline: 20 December 2027)
- Mindbullet: The real fountain of youth (Dateline: 2 March 2020)
Warning: Hazardous thinking at work
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