DEC 19, 2017 4:51 PM PST

Can we Mass-produce Organs for Patients Anytime Soon?

WRITTEN BY: Carmen Leitch

It has been said that one day we may be able to simply grow new organs on demand for patients who are in need. Already, some basic tissues have been grown for transplant and there are a small number of people who have received transplants of artificial bladders. The vast majority of transplant organs still come from the deceased, however, and a few come from living donors.

However, is it realistic to think that we could manufacture complex organs for use in the clinic one day? Around 30,000 people received a transplant last year, and that still leaves about 100,000 people waiting for a transplant at any given time. The video takes a closer look at the question of how soon it may be before we can farm new organs for those waiting patients.

Scientists have grown simplified versions of human organs for use in the lab from stem cells, and that has advanced research; these simple models stand in for animal models or human patients, who aren't often available as research subjects. These so-called organoids aren't quite ready for transplantation though, and scientists are continuing to try to grow more complicated structures, as well as getting blood vessels to reach them.

We are likely still decades away from producing organs for transplantation on a large scale.
About the Author
  • Experienced research scientist and technical expert with authorships on 28 peer-reviewed publications, traveler to over 60 countries, published photographer and internationally-exhibited painter, volunteer trained in disaster-response, CPR and DV counseling.
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