Clinical Applications and Future Value of Artificial Tissues and Organs
Clinical Applications and Future Value of Artificial Tissues and Organs
  • Professor Sung Won KIM
  • 승인 2014.11.19 11:08
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Complex biological structures can be regenerated via tissue engineering, especially in combination with 3D printing technology, a recently emergent technique. 3D printing technology has attracted much attention. This technology is one of a new generation of production technologies bringing innovation to existing techniques, largely based on mass production and labor-based production systems.
3D printing technology was first patented in 1986, but it was impossible to create a market at that time, in that market trends developed in a context of mass production and patent rights existed in that era. However, with the original patent now expired and changes in the need for various consumer products, 3D printing technology has entered the limelight. In particular, given the expanded number of raw materials available, 3D printing technology has attracted great attention because of potential cost savings in healthcare industries and the great potential demand for personalized medical products. A new ecosystem of health-related industries is expected to emerge now that it is possible to produce consumer-optimized products tailored to specific physical conditions.
Personalized products are clearly necessary in the field of dentistry and clinical prosthetics generally. In the future, as the manufacturing of artificial tissues and organs with human tissues and cells becomes available, the production and clinical application of artificial tissues and organs in combination with 3D printing technology will become a key technology in driving the healthcare industry.
Current 3D printing technology has been applied relatively simply so far in personalized products such as hearing aids, artificial limbs, and dentures, made of silicone, plastic, or metal, but these materials lack biocompatibility. However, 3D printing in the future will involve bio-printing technology, using living cells, stacking them in areas of a desired shape or pattern as a laminated form for producing artificial tissues or organs. This technology can be applied to various fields, such as organ printing and muscle and bone production. If bio-printing technology becomes commercialized, problems such as the long-term storage of organs and the inconvenience of having to wait for a specific organ donor will disappear because the products made through bio-printing are made to a designed shape at the time of need.
Additionally, it is expected that artificial organs fabricated with living cells will solve the biocompatibility issues that those made of conventional plastic or metal have. Artificial tissues or organs will also be used for the production of three-dimensional human tissue “chips” that mimic human physiology and the creation of models for the prediction of the safety and efficacy of drug candidates.
Tissues or organs “on a chip” can spatially and temporally control several soluble factors required for the formation of tissue microenvironments and function. If mechanical engineering, chemical engineering, and materials engineering technologists and researchers in biology and medicine knock down the barriers to interdisciplinary work and build a collaborative system to communicate closely in developing biological tissue “chip” fabrication technologies, such chips could grow into a platform to bring a new paradigm to the field of new drug development. Thus, we suggest that the potential market for this is very large.
Also, a tissue or organ on a chip can be used to examine physiological and pathological mechanisms. As more, different cell types can be cultured in tissues or organs on chips and more related techniques are developed, the culturing of stem cells can be considered within the tissue or organ on a chip. These experiments would use human cells, not animal cells, suggesting the possibility of reducing the time and expense it takes to test drug candidates. In the case of drug screening, predictive toxicology evaluations, based on a human-on-a-chip, are expected to be possible. The production and clinical application of artificial tissue and organ grafts is becoming a reality with the advent of tissue engineering and the development of bio-printing technology, combined with 3D printing technology. We look forward to the day when the use of a patient-specific artificial tissue or organ is realized through the multi-disciplinary study of engineers, biologists, and clinicians. This technology will be the foundation of medicine in the future.