Research Nugget #3

Revised

APA Citation: Hampson, G. (2013, August 23). Bioprinting and Immortality . . Retrieved July 17, 2014, from http://nationalscience.org/blog/nsci-focus-areas/science-transfer/2013/bioprinting-and-immortality/

Devil and angel pulling 3d person for handsLive Link to Article: Bioprinting and Immortality

In this article Hampson takes a stab at the ethical side of Bioprinting, which could be the most important branch in the medical field. Hampson explains that Bioprinting is not happening any time soon because of all the technical challenges. He continues to state many questions and explanations of the effect of Bioprinting toward our future. One main point he makes is that if Bioprinting turns out to be a success we might change the definition of life itself and push the limits of our planet.

Bioprinting will impact our lives by causing easily replacing organs, changing medical costs, and creating a higher quality of life, in the short run. If the brakes of Bioprinting are removed cancer, disability, injury, and even old age become simple obstacles in life. In addition, socioeconomic impacts organs will turn into everyday products, then money will play a large roll in our lives, literally. Retirement, disability care, and Social Security will be among the minimal worries oppose to human potential and performance.

“Hyperbole? Yes—definitely over the short term. But over the longer term? Consider just the possible implications of organ printing —this development alone will be extraordinarily impactful. What kinds of changes are ahead if we are someday able to simply replace diseased, damaged or failing organs instead of living shortened lives, or dealing with chronic and debilitating long-term illnesses, treatments and limitations? Reduced long-term medical costs? Higher productivity? Markedly higher quality of life?

We can do transplants now, of course, but the availability of organs, the complexity of transplant operations, and the rejection rates involved keep these procedures from being more commonplace. What happens when we remove these brakes and the scale and availability of transplant operations increases dramatically? Will we get to the point where cancer, disability, injury, and even old age become a fraction of the peril they are today and have been throughout human history? And will medical science be up to the challenge? Is transplant science going to advance enough to keep pace with the inevitable demand? And what about brain science? If restoring organ life after organ death is going to be possible, then preserving brain life will be key and more research and development will be needed in this area. Until we can learn to print brains as well (or grow them).”

impactHampson is obviously looking toward the future repercussions of Bioprinting. Although in its successful early stages, Bioprinting seems to make a ripple effect bigger than we can handle. If not controlled for certain purposes Bioprinting could change the past, present and future of people’s lives. We would be able to bring people back to life, cure them of any injury by replacing body parts, and basically make them live forever. Brandon Griggs states in his article that 3D printing will advance much faster than the understanding of the technology. 3D printing and Bioprinting in their short time of being alive has evolve substantially. It started off only being able to print simple objects with plastic or metal, then began printing complex objects. Once noticed 3D printing was applied to the medical field where doctors, engineers, and scientists began printing using different materials such as biopolymers. As it advanced in the medical field 3D printing turned into Bioprinting, using different gels to harness cells in which the cells would grow and possibly make organs, tissues, cartilage, etc. Obviously 3D printing has come a long way in such a short time and has shown to be nothing but beneficial but could it be too fast for us to understand that it might hurt us in the end?

655cd285771103054ef5e2202cfbfe89*Thanks to Tom Woodward’s (@twoodwar) tweet, I was able to include this photo which could serves somewhat of a representation of the Bioprinting field possibly turning into a business.

“What about the minor socioeconomic impacts? Will an “organ gap” develop between those who can afford to extend life and those who can’t? Will insurers draw a line drawn between “emergency” use and quality-of-life or even “off-label” vanity use? And how will vanity use develop—from buying better brand-name body parts to assessing the legality of their use in society (what athlete wouldn’t want to have Nike brand lungs, after all)? And who will own these custom body parts? Will they have warranties attached?

What about the ethical questions? What if a very elderly person wants to extend their life for another 50 years? Do we print them a new set of organs—heart, eyes, kidneys? Why not? In fact, as technology continues to progress, what happens if we start printing entire living creatures? Combined with recent ideas about uploading new information directly into the brain, can we contemplate a day in the not-so-distant future where we are capable of simply printing humans and providing them with starter set of information to compensate for their time not spent in the womb—Womb 101?

Would we just print babies or older humans as well? Would the humans we print belong to a different class of humans (for instance, the religiously inclined might worry that these are humans with no soul or a lesser connection to the divine). Would they be “copyrightable” humans with designer parts?”

The concepts Hampson states in his article might sound outrageous and far fetched but then again things like 3D printing and Bioprinting are changing rapidly. This may change the way you think Bioprinting will impact humans. To keep it simple, a lot of these “what-if” questions could or could not be applicable in the future. In recent 3D printing research the pros are out weighing the cons, but could that be the case in the future? Yes 3D printing might alter the very nature of our existence but that is what humans do. We adapted and move on to new obstacles in life, which is exactly what we are doing here. Along time ago people were suffering from organ failures. As a result doctors came up with organ transplants. As organ transplants come to a seize and the number of donations can not keep up with the number of patients that need transplants, a new method must be thought up. This new method would be the 3D printing of organs or could it?

This article revealed a new way to view Bioprinting and also included the the importance it will carry. I would have to disagree with Hamspon, Bioprinting is indeed going to be a pivotal branch of the medical field but its impact will not be as severe as he is contemplating it to be. Hampson’s article also presented many questions I would have never thought of. Without a doubt, Bioprinting is the future of our lives and future lives.

2 thoughts on “Research Nugget #3

  1. How would you describe Hampson’s tone? In just these nuggets, I sense / hear a researcher who is seriously troubled, right? He raises so many ethical questions for which he has no answers for. His goal, maybe, as a writer, is to raise these questions and thereby leave the reader deeply troubled too.

    Has bioprinting even gotten to the stage where we can create full organs? (Maybe your early research answers this, but I don’t recall). So Hampson is looking out several decades, right? Who has access to these newly created organs is such an interesting question. Who has access to the very best medical care now? (the wealthy — wouldn’t you say?). So I think Hampson is concerned that this gap between medical access will get greater. If you have the money, you can reprint organs, even design them, and thus live longer, better lives than the poor.

    Will the ethical concerns be part of your claim? (I’ll have to wait and see what your other research posts look like)…..

  2. Yes Hampson’s article and questions did leave me troubled. So troubled that I altered my research question to incorporate his ideas. It is still basically the same but I added a new twist.

    There have been small organs printed like kidneys. The kidneys work and have passed many tests but are still far from being transplanted into someone’s body. I would agree that he is concerned with the gap will be greater but still that is how it is today.

    The ethical concerns will be apart of my claim because most of the ethical concerns are problems that the successes of Bioprinting creates.

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