Can we create replica organs?

I know there is a term for “replica organ”, I just can’t think of it right now. With replica I also mean working. Let’s use the heart for an example. Does anyone have any information on this subject? Are there people trying? What is the exact reason as of right now were at a halt for recreating a heart.

Obviously I am clueless on this subject but I do know we can’t use wood or iron.

There used to be a company here in Ottawa called World Heart. I think they’re all but broke now, but that was their big claim to fame. They’re working on it, but insofar as I know, they’re last ditch replacements for people who CANNOT get a transplant.

Search “Abiocor” into google if you want to learn more about the subject. I can’t talk about organs for more than a few seconds without the hypochondriac in me being grossed out. :slight_smile:

There have been some interesting first steps using similar technologies to inkjet printing /3D fabrication - building up organs layer by layer out of living cells and gelatin or some other substrate.

There’s a long way to go before it will ever be developed to the state where a functioning heart can just be printed out of a machine, but maybe some simpler organs (esp non-muscular ones) might be possible along the way.

There’s been an (several?) artificial heart implanted, I think during the late 80s, in the USA. It was widely publicized but the person didin’t live for long (only some days, I think). Sorry, I don’t remember more details.

A lot of progress has been made in recent years, but there is a long way to go. Most of the current progress involves taking a donor organ (human or animal), washing out the cells to leave a collagen framework, and then seeding that with host stem cells. Once the context has been established, the stem cells will differentiate correctly. Working rat hearts have been developed using this method, but whether it can scale to humans has not been established yet. There is also the fact that the new organ takes time to develop and this is best done in situ (to get all the contextual development cues). Supporting someone with a failing liver while their new one develops is just not possible yet.
The great thing is that the collagen scaffold does not trigger an immune response, and could be from an animal - pigs are good candidate for heart/liver/kidney scaffold.
There have been human larynx reconstruction using human donor scaffolds, and blood vessel repair does not appear to be too far off.


Researchers have already successfully grown bladders for dogs, so the technology is definitely coming along.

A friend of mine lived for a year with an artificial heart, with an expected survival time of 6-7 years, until he got a heart transplant and promptly died. What killed him was not the new heart, it ticked away in good condition, but the massive infection he got as a result of knocking out his immune system.

Is any work being done on ‘cybernetic’ organs - I am not sure how to describe it, but imagine a cybernetic heart as using an artificial pump and valves, but a tissue-based container - does that make sense? Essentially try to get the best of both worlds - artificial mechanisms for durability, but with tissues to help with host acceptance.

I am fascinated by this subject, but it is always at the bottom of my reading list.

Here is an article and podcast on the bio-engineered blood vessels. Full text requires subscription. (Side note: does anyone say or read the word ‘vessel’ without channeling Chekov?")

There are also “artificial hearts” that don’t work at all like a normal one (they don’t have a pulse) that are used in people with still-working but weak hearts, to give the natural heart a chance to rest. Dick Cheney has one (yes, it’s literally true that Dick Cheney has no pulse).

That’s the kind my friend, that I mentioned above, had.