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Printing a human kidney

[Our lab uses] a desktop inkjet printer, but instead of using ink, we’re using cells. — Anthony Atala

Synopsis

Surgeon Anthony Atala demonstrates an early-stage experiment that could someday solve the organ-donor problem: a 3D printer that uses living cells to output a transplantable kidney. Using similar technology, Dr. Atala's young patient Luke Massella received an engineered bladder 10 years ago; we meet him onstage. Talk recorded 3 March 2011.

About the Speaker

Anthony Atala asks, "Can we grow organs instead of transplanting them?" His lab at the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine is doing just that - engineering over 30 tissues and whole organs. Anthony Atala is the director of the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine, where his work focuses on growing and regenerating tissues and organs. His team engineered the first lab-grown organ to be implanted into a human - a bladder - and is developing experimental fabrication technology that can "print" human tissue on demand.

In 2007, Atala and a team of Harvard University researchers showed that stem cells can be harvested from the amniotic fluid of pregnant women. This and other breakthroughs in the development of smart bio-materials and tissue fabrication technology promises to revolutionize the practice of medicine.

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