Imagine taking the news that you have liver disease, lung cancer, and a shoddy heart with little more than a yawn and a wince of annoyance. And just imagine that your greatest concern is not a painful and impending death, but that somehow you’ll have to set aside an afternoon for multiple organ replacement.
Organovo, a San Diego based biotechnology research team, is working on making seamless organ and tissue harvesting a reality. The company is pioneering the use of bioprinting technology to print living tissue at the cellular level. Of course, Organovo is thinking bigger, hoping the process of printing hearts, lungs, and any organ desired will be common medical practice within the next few decades.
The effect this will have on humans is extraordinary, extending well beyond the convenience of rapid organ transplantation to treat disease or aging. Bioprinting, coupled with synthetic biology (think bioprinting at the genetic level), will allow scientists to alter and modify our genes to fulfill a whole host of human desires and needs. In fact, this represents the very means by which human evolution will advance in the near future. Extending human life (at least for those who’ll be able to afford the application of such technology) and altering our bodies to accommodate existing occupations will be bound only by our imagination.
The following video offers an intriguing discussion on the intersection of bioprinting, synthetic biology, and human evolution. The participants include Andrew Hessel, a technology futurist, Keith Murphy, chairman and CEO of Organovo, and Dr. Shaochen Chen, a UCSD professor and nano-engineering expert.