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3D Bioprinters Could Make Enhanced, Electricity-Generating 'Superorgans'

timothy posted about a month and a half ago | from the finally-some-competition dept.

Biotech 69

New submitter meghan elizabeth (3689911) writes Why stop at just mimicking biology when you can biomanufacture technologically improved humans? 3D-printed enhanced "superorgans"—or artificial ones that don't exist in nature—could be engineered to perform specific functions beyond what exists in nature, like treating disease. Already, a bioprinted artificial pancreas that can regulate glucose levels in diabetes patients is being developed. Bioprinting could also be used to create an enhanced organ that can generate electricity to power electronic implants, like pacemakers.

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69 comments

Obligatory (4, Funny)

ClickOnThis (137803) | about a month and a half ago | (#47234979)

Internet rule 34. 'Nuff said.

Re:Obligatory (4, Funny)

sjwt (161428) | about a month and a half ago | (#47235191)

Its not all about sex, the best part is this brings new meaning to the phrase 'My battery just died'

Re:Obligatory (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47235433)

3D-printed enhanced "superorgans"—or artificial ones that don't exist in nature—could be engineered to perform specific functions beyond what exists in nature, like treating disease. Already, a bioprinted artificial pancreas that can regulate glucose levels in diabetes patients is being developed. Bioprinting could also be used to create an enhanced organ that can generate electricity to power electronic implants, like pacemakers.

So... diabetes and heart disease then? Wow. We will go to great lengths to avoid telling people that if you eat like a fatass and don't exercise like a fatass you will be a fatass including every problem that goes along with that.

If re-engineering human organs is easier than putting the fork down and saying no to the pastries then we're doomed as a civilization.

Re:Obligatory (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47235753)

Ah, but humans where optimised for conditions where starvation was a real risk and lifespans where shorter due to infectious disease, we are in fact driven to put on excess fat when we can. If you can fix the drivers that make us try to put on weight then you can deal with this, in fact although I did not see it in the context of 3d printing, I did see a suggestion and a design for an artificial extra organ that suppressed apatite in relation to fat levels, which would help overcome this "design" flaw. Why plaster over a problem that you can fix?

Re:Obligatory (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47235851)

The first insulin-dependent diabetic I knew was captain of my school's cricket team, and physically fitter than you'll ever be. I've never been overweight in my life and try to keep myself in shape, yet half of my family developed diabetes later in their lives, regardless of their shape - so I know what I might have to look forward to. Yet my maternal grandmother, despite loving her sweet foods, suffered little health-wise until her late 80s. Life deals you cards, bro, and only an idiot thinks he has much control over the House.

As to whether re-engineering the brain or another organ is easier - brains are just like legs, biological organs which can be damaged by the wrong stimulus. For the fat people of the America, advertising and choice of sweeteners go a long way to doing this. It requires a religious rather than scientific understanding of the human body to believe that all a person has to do to achieve something is to want to achieve it. And religion is interesting but if you're going to go down that path then you might as well pray the fat away.

Re:Obligatory (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47243341)

Your grandmother didn't grow up on Fructose Corn Syrup. IMHO, the biggest cause for Diabetes. I cannot believe how many people I know who are Diabetic.

Give me Sugar Cane Coke please!!!

ROFL (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47235801)

Internet rule 34. 'Nuff said.

http://i1.kym-cdn.com/photos/images/newsfeed/000/002/682/34.PNG

Give it 50 years... (1)

gweihir (88907) | about a month and a half ago | (#47234981)

And some of these over-enthusiastic ramblings may even come true. But not much earlier than that.

Re:Give it 50 years... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47235013)

so are you just not keeping up with the way medical technology is developing lately or are you just one of those "humans aren't capable of that" types? because i'd hardly call them over-enthusiastic ramblings, more like predictable short-term advances given the current path of medical science. your attitude sucks horse balls, if nothing else, so please remain under your rock

Re:Give it 50 years... (2)

Trepidity (597) | about a month and a half ago | (#47235177)

A decades-long lead time is common in medicine. Research on implantable artificial kidneys has already been going on for about 30 years (the first patents date from around 1981-82), with no actual result yet. Here's a survey article [sciencedirect.com] from 20 years ago on biohybrid artificial organs. This kind of stuff takes a long time.

Re:Give it 50 years... (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47235225)

I am keeping up with medical technology, and frankly the amount of academic stuff that actually reaches the man on the street is so minuscule that anyone who has reached middle age can forget about that Revolutionary New Thing Coming Soon, because it won't be. While the quantity of medical research done has never been greater, advances in the practice of medicine have not been slower at any time in the past century. It's not just that we've solved all the elementary problems, but that research is now mostly directed by the businesses which sponsor it - and, contrary to popular belief, it is big, centralised, production-directed systems which tend to be quickest at completing the waterfall from research to implementation.

Re:Give it 50 years... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47235327)

I am keeping up with medical technology, and frankly the amount of academic stuff that actually reaches the man on the street is so minuscule that anyone who has reached middle age can forget about that Revolutionary New Thing Coming Soon, because it won't be.

Thats thanks to the excellent medical system we have in great ol' America! If you were a millionaire, you could have any wonderful, life-saving treatment you wanted. If the people wanted every old Joe on the street to get proper healthcare, they'd vote for universal healthcare instead of saying that the emergency room is already a perfect healthcare system for every non-millionaire.

Re:Give it 50 years... (1)

jellomizer (103300) | about a month and a half ago | (#47235425)

You are aware that most Americans have health insurance already including people who are not super rich. Medicare and Medicaid is there too to help out as well.

The ACA or Obama Care has created a set of cheap insurances you can buy from too.

I am not stating that there are no big problems. But you are over exadurating the state of healthcare in America.

Re:Give it 50 years... (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | about a month and a half ago | (#47237839)

One, the word is "exaggerating".

Two, the "over" is redundant. It wouldn't really make sense to under exaggerate, would it?

Re:Give it 50 years... (1)

q4Fry (1322209) | about a month and a half ago | (#47263827)

Stop being "obggerate" ;-D

Re:Give it 50 years... (1)

khallow (566160) | about a month and a half ago | (#47238223)

The ACA or Obama Care has created a set of cheap insurances you can buy from too.

Since we're on the subject, no it doesn't create a set of cheap insurance. It creates a class of subsidized insurance with built-in bailouts for insurers who take on too much risk. Someone still pays for that either through the subsidies or through the bailouts.

Re:Give it 50 years... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47238681)

Only Americans think "insurance" counts as healthcare.

Re:Give it 50 years... (1)

jellomizer (103300) | about a month and a half ago | (#47245595)

Yes, but America is also one of the few countries that are not crushing themselves from government overspending either.

Re:Give it 50 years... (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | about a month ago | (#47285305)

The NHS in the UK costs [poundsign]140bn, or 8% of GDP. Private healthcare adds about a quarter of that.

Meanwhile, the US spends around 17% of GDP and still has people dropping dead from preventable conditions.

http://www.bloomberg.com/visua... [bloomberg.com]

But, you know, communism and all that.

Re:Give it 50 years... (1)

gweihir (88907) | about a month and a half ago | (#47236631)

It is suckers like you that drives this form of irresponsible reporting. Nothing actually useful will be achieved in the short term here. I am an engineer and a scientist and unlike you, I actually do understand how long these developments take.

Re:Give it 50 years... (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | about a month and a half ago | (#47237853)

But ... but ... but this uses 3D printers!

And rumour has it Elon Musk is involved. It'll be in the shops Monday, I'm sure.

Huh..sounds cool... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47234987)

You go first.

You could generate electricity... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47235003)

...by hooking a little mechanical dynamo to the heart, so that a little bit of the power from each heartbeat would go into triggering the next one.

Re:You could generate electricity... (1)

ClickOnThis (137803) | about a month and a half ago | (#47238579)

That might help to regulate a heartbeat, but it would take energy away from the heart that could be used to pump blood. If the heart is weak in the first place, then I'm not sure you'd want to to tax it further by making it power its own pacemaker. Better to power the pacemaker by some other bio-electrical source, such as the electricity-generating artificial organ described in TFA.

Then again, if we can just print someone a new "super-heart" then sure, put a dynamo in it and make it power whatever you want. Run your cell-phone, wearable Christmas lights, a human-mobile WiFi access-point, whatever. But how would this compare with other ways to create electricity inside the body, such as the new electricity-generating organ proposed in TFA?

Re:You could generate electricity... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47242813)

That might help to regulate a heartbeat, but it would take energy away from the heart that could be used to pump blood.

I don't think you understand just how little power a pacemaker requires. How many other electronic devices can you name that could function reliably long after the owner has died?

They need a better market research dept. (1)

dilvish_the_damned (167205) | about a month and a half ago | (#47235029)

If they really knew what they were trying to build it would be a multiply redundant liver with wireless charging pad.

Re:They need a better market research dept. (2)

dbc (135354) | about a month and a half ago | (#47235053)

Soooo.... turn the liver into an alcohol powered fuel cell? So the only way your phone has enough charge to send a text is if you are drunk on your @ss? Do you really want to live in a world like that?

Re:They need a better market research dept. (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47235073)

Why yes, yes i do.

Re:They need a better market research dept. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47235413)

Yes, and all the crimestoppers TV that comes with it!!!

First Biomachines (3, Insightful)

John.Banister (1291556) | about a month and a half ago | (#47235081)

I can see them having success with biological machines that replace more cumbersome mechanical machines. I can even see them producing special purpose machines, like something that processes blood alcohol and takes some of the stress from over consumption off of the liver. But replacing undamaged organs with "superorgans" will take a while as people learn what isn't now known about the complexity of the systems in which organs interact. By the time they get there they might end up with distributed organs made of groups of self replicating nano sized biomachines and we'll have to be scared of a whole new class of viruses.

Re:First Biomachines (1)

Jim Sadler (3430529) | about a month and a half ago | (#47235733)

Organs that generate power as a bonus sounds good. But somehow we would end up with people who get a short and have an internal fire or electrocute themselves. Really I think a lot of these types of operations could do wonderful things but the great barrier might be in most people fearing a surgical cut or scar. It is rather like the legacy of fear in dentistry. People still dread the dentist yet the procedures are not unpleasant these days. We must only live in fear of the bill when we check out.

Re:First Biomachines (1)

Gavagai80 (1275204) | about a month and a half ago | (#47239429)

Dental procedures are not unpleasant these days? Can I move to your universe?

Re:First Biomachines (1)

newcastlejon (1483695) | about a month and a half ago | (#47242817)

Unpleasantness is relative. Have you watched Saturday night TV recently? At least when I had my wisdom teeth out there was a sense of relief at the end; the same cannot be said for something like Britain's Got Talent.

Re:First Biomachines (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47235953)

And even the "we're trying to invent an artificial! But we'll 3D print it!!!!!" is like saying "we have a new paper! And we can even make it flat!!!"

There have been numerous attempts to implant beta cells to produce insulin. These would not be particulary effective for Type 2 diabetics, who are insulin resistant: they have *plenty* of insulin. It could be helpful for the 5% of diabetics with Type 1 diabetes, who normally have no natural insulin because an auto-immune problem killed all the insulin producing cells. And guess what? That auto-immune problem is in place the rest of your life!!!! It kills transplanted cells, too!!!!

So if you just implant them, or fail to thoroughly encapsulate them, they still get destroyed. Auto-immune drugs tend to interfere with the effectiveness of insulin. There have been numerous attempts to encapsulate the cells, but if you leave the encapsulation permeable, or porous enough, to allow glucose and insulin, and to allow plasma or interstitial fluids in to keep the cells alive, you usually wind up allowing the immune system to attack the cells and ruin them quite quickly. Plus, scar tissue around the implant tends to interfere with glucose detection and insulin flow back out, so the response times are quite poor.

Vascularizing the implant with clever manufacture could help the response times and maybe help with scar formation. but doesn't address the auto-immune problem. So it's really research to grab funding, unlikely to ever be clinically useful. And if you had a fix for the auto-immune problem, you'd have a cure for most Type 1: Dr. Faustmann's lab at Mass. General Hospital has shown that correcting the auto-immune problem allows the body to create insulin producing cells from adult stem cells. It surprised the hell out of *them* when they figured it out: the lab animals didn't need insulin anymore. They're in their second round of human testing now.

Re:First Biomachines (1)

LifesABeach (234436) | about a month and a half ago | (#47236555)

I was thinking about the body's first line of defense, the Skin.

Re:First Biomachines (1)

penguinoid (724646) | about a month and a half ago | (#47238041)

I can even see them producing special purpose machines, like something that processes blood alcohol and takes some of the stress from over consumption off of the liver.

Or a specialized organ that detects high blood sugar and converts it to alcohol! Uh, for diabetics, of course.

Re:First Biomachines (1)

John.Banister (1291556) | about a month and a half ago | (#47238083)

A technological innovation that allows a person to actually piss beer. It'll change frat parties forever.

I neeeeeeeed it (1)

slashmydots (2189826) | about a month and a half ago | (#47235099)

I want a super kidney that's so powerful, it can even filter out duplicate posts on slashdot!

Misread (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47235143)

For a moment there I thought that said Electricity Generating Superorgasms.

Mind playing tricks or ... (1)

Greg666NYC (3665779) | about a month and a half ago | (#47235153)

Anyone else read today's titles as?

3D Bioprinters Could Make Enhanced, Electricity-Generated 'Superorgazms'

Amaya Gaming Buys PornStars and Full Tits Poker For $4.9 Billion

Unfortunately (2)

Eddi3 (1046882) | about a month and a half ago | (#47235161)

This sounds great, but unfortunately from TFA:

"Demonstration of a mini organ model lighting a bulb might be feasible in five years. But developing the technology for transplantation, hooking that up to the blood stream, connecting and synchronizing it with a heart with failed AV node will take much longer." Long enough that we probably wonâ(TM)t be enjoying superhuman organs in our lifetimes. Bioprinted "self-powered humanâ parts that generate electricity are at least 100 years off, Ozbolat said.

Re:Unfortunately (1)

interkin3tic (1469267) | about a month and a half ago | (#47236195)

It's always good to be skeptical of anyone saying some new bit of technology is only five years away from being useful... but people saying some bit of technology will take "at least 100 years" should be outright ignored. No one can predict that far in the future when it comes to technology. The NEXT technological breakthrough in a series is nearly impossible to predict a decade in advance. Calling a STRING of breakthroughs like that is dumber than tarot cards. Think about the conservative predictions in the 80s for technology in the year 2000. Flying cars and MAYBE personal radios for everyone. Saying everyone would have pocket supercomputers would have been laughed out of the room.

Re:Unfortunately (1)

Neil Boekend (1854906) | about a month and a half ago | (#47244105)

All cars can fly. It's just that most don't fly very far and the landing is quite rough. Just like back then.

you blew my cover! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47235185)

how to piss off an alien/human hybrid (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47235193)

The 'beasts' share the same scent

the hybrids carrying filthy spawn (like in the days of Noah) are easy to SNIFF out, literally, they all smell the same when you're in the proper state of mind.

some of them have eyes which appear to be bugging out of their face.

even if you can't detect the scent of the hybrids, or 'beasts', inhale deeply whenever the hybrids are close, don't express any emotion, just keep inhaling deeply and make your facial expression be that of deep contemplation.

when you do this, they know that you know what their true reality is - it's like the movie THEY LIVE where Nada sees the truth through the glasses and confronts them.

don't confront, just inhale deeply. maybe shake your head and laugh, mumble about stupid aliens but nothing deep.

Better filters (1)

brianerst (549609) | about a month and a half ago | (#47235211)

I'd think one good use for such biological machines would be as super-filters - organs that could scrub the blood of excess cholesterol and other lipids as well as various toxins we haven't evolved to efficiently process.

I, for one, welcome our new bioprinted organs that keep my arteries clean as a whistle...

And thus... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47235213)

The Imperium of Man began...

3 Implants

        3.1 Secondary Heart
        3.2 Ossmodula
        3.3 Biscopea
        3.4 Haemastamen
        3.5 Larraman's Organ
        3.6 Catalepsean Node
        3.7 Preomnor
        3.8 Omophagea
        3.9 Multi-lung
        3.10 Occulobe
        3.11 Lyman's Ear
        3.12 Sus-an Membrane
        3.13 Melanchromic Organ
        3.14 Oolitic Kidney
        3.15 Neuroglottis
        3.16 Mucranoid
        3.17 Betcher's Gland
        3.18 Progenoids
        3.19 Black Carapace

3D-printing cancer (1)

Blaskowicz (634489) | about a month and a half ago | (#47235233)

What could go possibly wrong. First, you need the organism to not attack and destroy the "organ" so here you need a lifetime of immuno-suppressing treatment, maybe a weak to fake or include the bio-markers (dunno the exact english term) so the new organ can be recognized as legit. And then if that really works out, then how will the organ stay constrained rather than grow anarchically and without limits? Mutations?

A great concept that seems to be science-fiction. If not impossible then I suppose the difficulty is staggering.

Re:3D-printing cancer (2)

Jesus_666 (702802) | about a month and a half ago | (#47235277)

How do our normal organs keep from gworing anarchically and without limits? They'd presumably try to use the same mechanism for their new organs. As for the immune system, perhaps they could base the organs off the recipient's DNA (such as through stem cells), which would make rejection less likely. It'd be expensive as hell, though. I do agree that we'll take some time getting there.

Another interesting question would be that of failure modes. What happens if your fancy new electric pancreas gets infected or develops cancer? This could make operations rather interesting and lead to some unusual new medical conditions. Nothing insurmountable, I'm sure, but medicine would become more complex when these things are involved.

Re:3D-printing cancer (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about a month and a half ago | (#47235853)

What happens if your fancy new electric pancreas gets infected or develops cancer?

Uh...you become an X-man? [fanboygaming.com]

ADAM (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47235249)

Rapture begins.

Come Aboard. We're expecting you. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47235257)

Love, exciting and new
Come Aboard. We're expecting you.
Love, life's sweetest reward.
Let it flow, it floats back to you.

Love Boat soon will be making another run
The Love Boat promises something for everyone
Set a course for adventure,
Your mind on a new romance.

Love won't hurt anymore
It's an open smile on a friendly shore.
Yes LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOVE! It's LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOVE! (hey-ah!)

Love Boat soon will be making another run
The Love Boat promises something for everyone
Set a course for adventure,
Your mind on a new romance.

Love won't hurt anymore
It's an open smile on a friendly shore.
It's LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOVE! It's LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOVE! It's
LOOOOOOOOOOOVE!
It's the Love Boat-ah! It's the Love Boat-ah!

I'm not sure... (1)

Jesus_666 (702802) | about a month and a half ago | (#47235265)

I mean, on the one hand we're facing the infinite power of bio-augmentation but on the other hand we'd be facing a future full of people who have to wear sunglasses because their vision is augmented, not to mention a transitory period where everyone is hooked on anti-rejection drugs except for a few guys who didn't ask for augs anyway. And things go badly we might end up with a near-omnipotent guy in the antarctic presiding over a world full of forgettable characters and crummy gameplay. What a shame that'd be.

Re:I'm not sure... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47235271)

Wow such imagination! Oh to be eight again!

Heart2 (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47235321)

Finally we can get rid of these atrociously developed Heart1s.
Seriously, what was the designer thinking by putting in such a silly ruleset for its operation?

2 billion beats? Terrible. Say hello to Heart2, 10 billion beats guaranteed or your money back!

just what we need (1)

drewsup (990717) | about a month and a half ago | (#47235431)

Cops with genetically enhanced with electric eels cells in their hands for permanent tasing ability.

Being diabetic could become an asset (2)

Tekoneiric (590239) | about a month and a half ago | (#47235607)

I'd like to see an artificial organ developed that would directly convert excess blood sugar into electricity to charge electronics or for built in electric shock organs in the hands. It would turn being diabetic into an asset. You could charge up on sweets.

It could also be used to burn off the excess sugar as bio-luminescence to be the life of the party.

Re:Being diabetic could become an asset (1)

grasshoppa (657393) | about a month and a half ago | (#47236105)

It could also be used to burn off the excess sugar as bio-luminescence to be the light of the party.

Sorry, the joke had to be made.

Pre-order? (2)

PopeRatzo (965947) | about a month and a half ago | (#47235629)

I already know which enhanced, electricity-generating superorgan I want.

Re:Pre-order? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47303809)

Just use a muscle+dynamometer and a pacemaker (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47235725)

This can be done right now, and has been developed for heart-assistance
http://www.ifess.org/cedu_cardiac
A major leg muscle could be used as a donor for a muscle strip, and would grow over time with use. Could be used as a 24hr exercise tool to burn off weight and increase cardiovascular fitness.

Drug glands!!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47235747)

I really could have used "calm" the other day and proceed through with what I was working on.

H.R Giger (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47235975)

I wish H.R Giger had lived to see this...

By Neruos (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47236249)

We have been hearing about cryo and suspended state, dna editing, gene therapy, stem cells, 3D printing, organ meshes, super organs, etc etc for 20+ years. To be honest, it's all just a bunch of non-sense. Prices keep going up, Salaries keep going down, the avg person is what makes up this world and the avg life span isn't getting better, easier or available to them.

So knock it off with all the "magic potion" type research. Until I see someone completely cured of HIV/AIDS, Cancer (any), Alzheimer's and a new Heart/Liver/Lung creation, all this stuff is a bunch of crap.

Next step: Electricity-Generated hands (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47237137)

Hadouken!

We could make organs to generate electricity? (1)

penguinoid (724646) | about a month and a half ago | (#47238011)

Agent Smith would be so proud.

I'd like a programmable calculator please! (1)

penguinoid (724646) | about a month and a half ago | (#47238077)

This would probably be a better fix to our arithmetic deficiencies than an implanted chip. Someone should inform DARPA that this would be useful in combat, for example in calculating trajectories and eliminating the need for watches and allowing for more complex and coordinated maneuvers. This way it might get done in my lifetime.

Just what we need (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47239693)

Replacing healthy organ "A" with enhanced organ "A" to generate electricity for an electronic device assisting ailing organ "B" -- that no one thought of replacing in the first place.

I know everyone's already mentioned 'Rule 34'... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47241305)

I just want to know if they can biomanufacture penises for women and/or vaginas for men, and also have them each be fully-functional -- in the pleasure-giving aspects, if nothing else.

Certainly there are at least some ladies out there who would be interested in this. And heck, in regard to the penises: if they're being biomanufactured anyway, you could even choose between having a 'natural' penis, or one that's circumcised right out of the box. (The latter would probably be cheaper, due to it requiring less material, even if it wouldn't be much less.)

I certainly know that I would be interested in this.

(Captcha is 'pronouns'. That seems oddly appropriate.)

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