3D printed organs on the way?

A new 3D printing technique has been developed that could speed up progress towards creating artificial human organs.

The process, developed by a team from Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, relies on an adjustable microvalve to build up layers of human embryonic stem cells. The researchers believe it could eventually eliminate the need for organ donation, although in the more immediate future it is expected to be used to generate biopsy-like tissue samples for drug testing. "To the best of our knowledge, this is the first time human stem cells have been 3D printed," said lead researcher Dr Will Shu. "We envisage the technology being further developed to create viable 3D organs for medical implantation from a patient's own cells, eliminating the need for organ donation, immune suppression and the problem of transplant rejection."