• Users Online: 171
  • Home
  • Print this page
  • Email this page
Home About us Editorial board Search Ahead of print Current issue Archives Submit article Instructions Subscribe Contacts Login 

 Table of Contents  
Year : 2016  |  Volume : 21  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 92-93

3D bioprinting: Arevolutionary tool in medicine

Editor-in-Chief, Department of Medicine, JMGIMS, MGIMS, Sevagram, Maharashtra, India

Date of Web Publication31-Aug-2016

Correspondence Address:
O P Gupta
Editor-in-Chief, Department of Medicine, JMGIMS, MGIMS, Sevagram, Maharashtra
Login to access the Email id

Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0971-9903.189539

Rights and Permissions

How to cite this article:
Gupta O P. 3D bioprinting: Arevolutionary tool in medicine. J Mahatma Gandhi Inst Med Sci 2016;21:92-3

How to cite this URL:
Gupta O P. 3D bioprinting: Arevolutionary tool in medicine. J Mahatma Gandhi Inst Med Sci [serial online] 2016 [cited 2023 Mar 29];21:92-3. Available from: https://www.jmgims.co.in/text.asp?2016/21/2/92/189539

Behind innovation, there are pioneers, dreamers, hard working passionate people ready to push the limits for the sake of making our place a better world.”

-Marco Avar

Three-dimensional (3D) bioprinting is the most mind-blowing and promising technological revolution in health care. It is now possible to use 3D printers to print cells that can multiply into actual fully printed tissues that are used in medical research and to create organs to assist in medical procedures.

3D printing (also known as “Additive manufacturing”) is printing of 3D object from a computer-generated model, utilizing an additive process, wherein successive layers of materials are laid upon each other in a sequential manner, and a solid 3D object is printed. From a simple toy, electronic devices, to human organs such as kidney, heart, and bladder can be printed by this process. The “ink” which is used consists of paper, liquids, metal, polymers, the living cells, etc.[1]

Recently, Dr. Robert M Goldman (chairman of the International Medical Commission) made certain future predictions. He said “Did you think in 1998 that 3 years later you would never take pictures on paper film again. But it did happen because of exponential technologies.” Moreover, he predicts – ”It will now happen with artificial intelligence, health, autonomous and electric cars, education, 3D printing, agriculture, and jobs. Welcome to the 4th Industrial Revolution. Welcome to the Exponential Age.”[2]

3D printing technology is in use in various other fields for over two decades. However, its use in medical area is recent. In March 2016, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the first ever 3D-printed drug “Spritam,” an epilepsy drug manufactured by Aprecia. It rapidly disintegrates in patients' mouth, making it easier to swallow. And, on May 10, 2016, in response to the increasing usage of 3D printing in medical device area, the FDA also issued a draft guidance on emerging technology titled, “Technical Considerations for Additives” (also named as “Leapfrog” guidance). It is astonishing that 98% of hearing aids worldwide are manufactured using 3D printing.[3]

There are significant advances in 3D bioprinting in the field of tissue engineering where the biomaterials such as polymers (e.g., alginate) or synthetic hydrogels are used. The use of these materials is feasible, strongly biocompatible, have low toxicity, and they are structurally stronger. There is an attempt to print microchannels that can maximize the diffusion of oxygen and nutrients from the surrounding tissues.[4]

Today, we can have 3D-printed low-cost prosthetics, tissues with blood vessels, cardiac models and heart valves, bones, ear cartilage, cranium replacement, synthetic skin, organs, drugs, and medical equipment. Printed 3D models are currently used for surgical planning in complex cases, especially in pediatric congenital heart procedures. In one case, 3D reconstruction of the airway allowed doctors to create a virtual airway splint implant customized to fit into the small anatomy.[5]

There are various examples [6] of 3D printing in medical field as follows:

  • Bionic arms, including ones with bionic hands that are controlled by the person's thoughts
  • Brain-controlled bionic legs and bionic joints
  • Bionic eyes that are giving sight back to some people who had lost it
  • Bionic spine for paralyzed patients allowing mobility
  • Likely to have a bionic pancreas, with Beta Bionics, which may revolutionize the treatment of diabetes.

The researchers are engineering microchips that recapitulate the microarchitecture and functions of living organs, such as the lungs, heart, and intestines. These microchips, called organs-on-chips, could one day form an accurate alternative to traditional animal testing. Growing organs on demand, using stem cells derived from patients themselves, could eliminate the lengthy wait that people in need of a transplant are often forced to endure before one becomes available.[7]

It is assumed that by 2019, 10% of people in the developed world will be living with 3D-printed items that are on or in their bodies, and 3D printing will be a critical tool in over 35% of the surgical procedures requiring prosthetic and implant devices.[8]

Medicine is now finally transforming from the treatment of illness and disease into preventative measures and the extension of the human lifespan. Together with the developments in nanotechnology and genetic engineering, bioprinting may also prove to be a powerful tool for those in pursuit of life extension. Mainstream bioprinting will also inevitably drive further the New Industrial Convergence, with doctors, engineers, and computer scientists, all increasingly learning to manipulate living tissue at its most basic cellular level.[9] Bioprinting technology could provide the opportunity to generate patient-specific tissue for the development of accurate, targeted, and completely personalized treatments. There is still a long way to go before we can create fully functioning and viable organs for human transplant.

  References Top

Available from: http://www.ascb.org/3d-printing-cell-biology-and-beyon/) m. [Last accessed on 2016 Jun 12].   Back to cited text no. 1
Available from: https://www.thefarmingforum.co.uk/index. php?threads/dr-robert-goldman-future-predictions. 122536/. [Last accessed on 2016 Jun 12].   Back to cited text no. 2
Available from: https://www.morganlewis.com/pubs/fda-issues-leapfrog-draft-guidance-for-3d-printing-of-medical-devices. [Last accessed on 2016 Jun 12].   Back to cited text no. 3
Available from: https://www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/3D_ bioprinting. [Last accessed on 2016 Jun 12].   Back to cited text no. 4
Available from: http://www. 3dprintingindustry.com/news/12-things-we-can-3d-print-in-medicine-right-now-42867/. [Last accessed on 2016 Jun 15].   Back to cited text no. 5
Available from: http://www.openbiomedical.org/bionics-and-3d-printing-add-to-revolution-medicine/. [Last accessed on 2016 Jun 16].   Back to cited text no. 6
Available from: http://www.news.mit.edu/2016/organ-on-a-chip-0106. [Last accessed on 2016 Jun 16].   Back to cited text no. 7
Available from: http://www.sculpteo.com/blog/2016/03/30/7-things-that-medical-3d-printing-can-already-do/. [Last accessed on 2016 Jun 16].   Back to cited text no. 8
Available from: http://www. 3dprintingindustry.com/news/12-things-we-can-3d-print-in-medicine-right-now-42867/. [Last accessed on 2016 Jun 16].  Back to cited text no. 9


Similar in PUBMED
   Search Pubmed for
   Search in Google Scholar for
Access Statistics
Email Alert *
Add to My List *
* Registration required (free)

  In this article

 Article Access Statistics
    PDF Downloaded1806    
    Comments [Add]    

Recommend this journal