2016-02-17 (Wednesday)

Today, I learned that:

Recently, a big scandal was uncovered in Sweden, at the prestigious Karolinska Institutet, that every year indicates the laureate of the Nobel prize in Physiology or Medicine. A world famous surgeon, Paolo Macchiarini, was hired as a visiting professor of Regenerative Medicine in 2010. He had developed a method of replacing a patient’s defective trachea with a new one made of plastic, which had been completed by the patients’ own stem cells to regenerate a fully compatible organ.

Between 2011 and 2013, Macchiarini performed three surgeries in Stockholm, as well as five more in USA and Russia. However, six of those surgeries ended up with the patients dying, and thus no such surgery was executed. Instead, in 2014 started investigations accusing Macchiarini of research fraud and unethical behaviour. One of the objections was that the alleged integration of the patient’s own cells with the synthetic trachea never happened. More in this matter will surely be announced soon.

However, I just came across an example of where synthetic organs seem to be a good and viable choice. Yesterday, Engadget published sensational information that the doctors at the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, United States, had successfully used a special 3D printer to produce a realistically looking human-size ear. The material used is a “biodegradable, plastic-like material” to form the shape of tissues, as well as water-based ink to hold cells and a series of microchannels to allow oxygen and nutrients to flow through. Look at the following amazing picture, soon to be found on a human being somewhere in the world:

3dprintedear

A 3D printed, human-size ear. Photo by the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine

… That’s what I learned in school!

Refs.:

1: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paolo_Macchiarini

2: http://sverigesradio.se/sida/artikel.aspx?programid=83&artikel=6363136

3: http://www.engadget.com/2016/02/16/3d-printed-organs/

+: What did you learn in school today ?

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