There is something mysterious going on at The University of Iowa. Amidst the corn fields and the roads that stretch on to nowhere, scientists are replicating something that nature has taken billions of years to create. A new manufacturing division called Advanced Manufacturing Technology (AMTecH) at The University of Iowa is working on a number of experiments and making everything from airplane parts to human organs. Yes, you read that right… human organs.
One half of AMTecH at the College of Engineering’s Center for Computer Aided Design (CCAD) is devoted to the radical new field of 3D bioengineering. Essentially, a group of scientists are working on a printer, using a unique “bio ink,” that can instantaneously create human tissue.
Co-director Ibrahim Ozbolat hopes that they can create a fully functional human organ, like a heart or a kidney, which would revolutionize the way humans receive transplants, within 10 years.
Right now they are working on a pancreas that can help the body regulate glucose levels. Researchers say that the truly miraculous thing about their 3D bio-printer is that it has multiple arms, which can complete multiple functions at once. This is a vast improvement, because one arm can be working on creating blood vessels, while another arm can be working on the organ itself.
There are smatterings of other research teams around the U.S. and the world who are collaborating on the same technology, but their machine only has one arm, giving the scientists at AMTecH an enormous advantage.
As the Ocean’s 12 team of researchers and scientists at AMTecH, who have a variety of different backgrounds, from engineering to medical science, continue to advance in their developments, the closer we are to the day when someone who needs a new heart, kidney, pancreas can receive a transplant within hours, or less, of their diagnosis; and the closer we are to the day where you can say to your friend who is losing his or her eyesight, “That’s okay, just get a new pair.”