There are people who wake up each day hoping it will be the day when they get the news about a liver transplant. Many thousands of people are approved for a transplant, but they waiting for a donor. The waiting list grows longer each year. Once again, 3D printing technology can offer some assistance to scientists and doctors when it comes to this. The 3D mini human livers you see in the video below are the smallest livers ever.
Each one is only 4 millimeters across and a half-millimeter deep. Despite their tiny size, each one of these mini human livers functions as a normal liver. This will help to accelerate the research and discovery process as it pertains to the toxicity of drugs and other things affecting the health of our livers. It’s hard to believe that a 3D printed organ of this size could function as a real one, but it can. Each one of these human livers (created with spare tissue from operations and biopsies) can make cholesterol, produce albumin (a liver protein) and produce detoxification enzymes. Each one can last 5 days or longer.
All of this was conceived and carried out by Organovo. Their goal is to be able to 3D print human livers that are the same size as the ones in our body. From what I read, that is possible to do now; however, the challenge comes when trying to keep it alive for any length of time. According to New Scientist, “The big hurdle is being able to print larger branched networks of blood vessels to nourish such an organ.” If you want to read about another type of 3D printed body part that is helping to change lives, click over to 3D Printed Ears That Look, Feel & Function Just Like Normal Human Ears.