Max Lugavere


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Two questions. Was the printed kidney FUNCTIONAL, and if the kid had a bladder transplant 10 years ago, why is this not more ubiquitous?!?!

I want to know if printers like the one displayed on the stage produce FUNCTIONAL ORGANS *READY* for transplantation, and also, if the kid who had the transplanted organ had the procedure done 10 YEARS AGO, why is this not a more common process? Why are we still harvesting organs from people?

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    Mar 10 2011: Anthony Atala asked us to post this response for him:

    These are two very good questions.

    At TED, we demonstrated the printing of a prototype engineered kidney using human kidney cells. While our research suggests the potential for this type of structure to function in the body, we are years away from achieving that goal and the project does not eliminate the current need for organ donation. The project is based on earlier research in which we were able to show that miniature kidneys could be engineered using scaffolds (biomaterials) and cells. Experimentally, these miniature kidneys were shown to be functional, in that they were able to filter blood and produce dilute urine. This work was first published in 2003 in the scientific journal Nature Biotechnology. The printing technology demonstrated at TED is one of the strategies that we are now using to try to make larger functional units for the kidney and other solid organs.

    Regarding the bladders … we implanted the first engineered bladder into a patient more than 10 years ago. While this may seem like enough time for this treatment to become widely available, it is important to remember that this was the first time laboratory-engineered organs had been implanted into patients. We did not know what to expect long term and needed to be extra-cautious and proceed slowly to ensure that the technology was safe over time. When we reported the first series of patients in the medical literature, up to 8 years of follow-up was already present, with most patients having their engineered bladder tissue for more than 5 years. In order for medical technologies to be approved for wide dissemination to patients, they must go through a multi-phase evaluation process through FDA- approved clinical trials. Currently, FDA Phase 2 engineered bladder human clinical trials are in progress. Hopefully, the bladder technology can progress through the completion of Phase 3 trials, so it can be made widely available to patients in the f
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    Mar 10 2011: And he concluded with this para (but I ran out of space in the last post):

    The number of technologies in the field or regenerative medicine that are reaching patients is increasing, but most of these technologies are still going through the regulatory process so safety and efficacy can be assured before they are disseminated widely. Although flat, tubular and hollow organs are progressing to the clinic, solid organs are still years away from their use in patients.
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    Mar 12 2011: I was thinking the same thing and I thought you gave a good answer. Thanks - Bryan
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    Mar 6 2011: I asked myself the same thing and would also really like to know the answer. I feel that tissue engineering in general should become a standard.