The Opposing Thumb

An opinionated digit leafs through the biological literature
Media Roundup

Lend Me Your Ear (or Print Me A Copy)

Scientists are often half-jokingly asked “where is my flying car?” or “why doesn’t my doctor have a tricorder yet?”. Setting aside the fact that some things (for example, portable communication devices) have by now far exceeded anything Gene Roddenberry dreamt of in the 60s, scientists should note that the correct response to these questions (and many more like them) is “I don’t know. I’ve been wondering the same thing myself, let’s go ask an engineer”. But sometimes, science jumps ahead of science fiction, as in the Ted Talk above, by Dr Anthony Atala, Director of the Wake Forrest Institute for Regenerative Medicine. Dr Atala describes, and demonstrates, the incredible new technology of organ printing. This is exactly what it sounds like, using a 3D printer to make functioning organs from scratch. So watch the video, but then read this recent piece by Rice University’s Jordan Miller in the open access journal PLOS Biology for a more nuanced look at the technology’s potential and limitations.

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