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The technology is the same as that of the simple inkjet printer found in homes and offices, but Japanese scientist Makoto Nakamura is on a mission to see if it can also produce human organs.
The idea is for the printer to jet out thousands of cells per second -- rather than ink droplets -- and to build them up into a three-dimensional organ.
"It would be like building a huge skyscraper on a micro level using different kinds of cells and other materials instead of steel beams, concrete and glass," he told AFP in this city in central Japan.
While Nakamura says it would take him some 20 years to develop a heart, the feat could pave the way to mass produce "good hearts" for patients waiting for transplants.
A heart made of cells originating from the patient could eliminate fears that the body would reject it.
In the study, scientists took cells from a chicken heart and used them to form bio-ink particles, which were then printed on to thick sheets. Heart cells must be synchronized for the heart to beat properly. When the bio-ink particles were first printed, the cells did not beat in unison, but as the cellular spheroids fused, the structure eventually started beating just as a heart does.
Originally posted by Scramjet76
I'm sure some ultra-religious conservative will be opposed to his idea. Saving lives is a wonderful thing as long as you don't alter "God's plan!"