Artificial organs: are they or could they be more reliable and readily available then transplants? Though research on this topic is limited, the advancement in the medical field has been rapidly going to find answers to questions like this one. Many of these technologies often play the role of restoring, improving, or maintaining the function of human organs that seem to be diseased. There is a substantial and growing need for this technology around the world. There is a noticeable growth in the quality of healthcare, which results in increased life spans for those affected. The developing technologies in artificial organs present a chance for individuals with end-stage diseases through the provision of a transplant or a bridge to recovery.
The advancement of 3D printing and other technologies allow medical professionals to make body parts like blood vessels and other parts that normally would not be transplanted. The Vanderbilt University's mechanical engineering department has found out easy cheap ways of making such organs by using something as simple as a cotton candy machine. OppenheimerFunds states, Because the cotton candy maker generates threads approximately one-tenth the diameter of human hair, the Vanderbilt researchers could use it to make the artificial blood vessels as well (OppenheimerFunds 1). The university has identified an effective and convenient way of developing alternative artificial organs that beat any natural organs and are affordable to any individual. OppenheimerFunds refers to it as an ingenious way; making use of a simple snack machine to save people's lives.
In most instances, it would be hard to harvest natural arteries from one individual then transfer them successfully to another. The research by the university means that there is no need for identifying how to get the blood vessels from one individual's body to another because the one they make will be readily available. Other scientists are successfully creating artificial hearts, livers, lungs, windpipes, and more in laboratory settings. Despite that, science encounters several barriers in the process of incorporating these organs into the healthcare service production; there is still evidence of significant medical accomplishments. The researchers of universities like Wake Forest University School of Medicine have had success making and transplanting artificial urinary bladders back in 2006. These institutions take a further step in the process, of not only producing these organs from mechanical components but they use lab-cultured cells. As OppenheimerFunds states, these bladders grown in a small laboratory vessel from a sampling of the patients' own cells are transformative (OppenheimerFunds 1).
The research of organs is highly beneficial towards lengthening lives of loved ones and others. As the population grows, more and more people need organs but the number of donors has stayed the same. It means that not everyone is able to get what he or she need to live. Artificial organs are therefore necessary to provide a quicker more efficient way of providing organs. Currently, the main aim of these organs is to ensure that individuals with serious organ failure have the chances to live while waiting to access a real organ. Researchers in this field of the healthcare sector are working on the development of bio-artificial organs, which will eliminate the need for a real organ. The new technology will ensure that patients can live for many years with the use of such organs. Additionally, Sifferlin states, Currently, SynCardia Systems, Inc. provides patients with a full-functioning artificial heart. The manufactured heart replaces both failing ventricles and all four heart valves and eliminates the need for pacemakers and defibrillators (Sifferlin 1). It is an indication of the current success in organ development and transfer and what is expected in the near future.
Artificial organs are of higher quality than harvested organs. The growth of artificial organs allows them to be free from infection from earlier use since they are made specifically for the patient. Their development and preservation mechanisms ensure that these remain at their quality best before a transplant unlike real organs, which are vulnerable to infection due to their nature. Further organ transplant is experiencing new technologies that make it easy to develop the artificial organs. Regenerative medicine is a fast-growing reality in today's healthcare industry. The technique applies the use of a body part printer to develop these body parts artificially. As Vogel explains, using the same idea as an ink-jet printer, it jets laser-guided droplets of cells and scaffold material onto a movable platform. With each pass of the printer head, the platform sinks, and the deposited material gradually builds up a 3-D piece of tissue (Vogel 1). It is an indication that various procedures that were previously demanding and painful for the patient will be easier with time. An example is patients who currently undergo painful skin grafts will get an access to human skin grown in the lab.
Examples of the typical complications resulting from harvested organs. Organs like livers and kidneys could be damaged from the use of alcohol and other substances. Tobacco products could damage lungs. Those are risks of using harvested organs potentially poisoning or killing the recipient of these much-needed organs. There are also chances of rejection of new organs in the body since it is not the body's own cells, which would cause the opposite response to what that patient needed in the first place. A surgery may be successful in instances where a real organ is used but the patient faces the risk of rejection. In the course of rejection, the body views the new organ as a threat the way it would a virus or bacteria. Therefore, it fights against the organ, which is harmful to the success of the transplant. As Bernard puts it, in fact, the body's immune system treats the organ as it would any other harmful foreign invader (Bernard 8). There will e development of antibodies by the immune system to try to kill the new organ. Therefore, the patient needs to be on powerful immunosuppressant drugs to ensure that antibodies stay at a record low giving the organ a chance to fully integrate into the body. It is an indication of the significant risk that comes with using real organs. Artificial organs will rarely encounter such barriers because they are developed from the cells of the individual and readily merge with the rest of the body.
There are several methods used to make these organs are through using the patient's own cells from these cells the organs can be grown off of another animal such as a mouse or inside a laboratory vessel. The first method you can grow off a live animal and usually mice are used for small body parts like ears instead of large organs since mice are so small. It is mostly because of the size needed for humans because they are much larger. Usually, since mice are too small. another way to make organs for a specific patient is to take an existing organ and use chemical compounds to break dont the cells leaving a sort of skeleton of the organ then grow the patients' cells on the skeleton of the organ. This process takes a few weeks but removes the risk of the body rejecting the organ since it contains the same cells. Gopalratnam indicates that. They can then drip in cells from the transplant recipient herself and the organ becomes restored and transplantable. Because it is made of the patient's cells, she will not reject the organ (Gopalratnam 1). He goes further to give an example of a woman in Barcelona who lives a normal life free of tuberculosis after a successful lung transplant using lungs that were developed using her cells. Many scientists are in the course of developing the stem cell technology even more. Their aim is that an organ developed using stem cells will be more effective than a real one because it will decrease the chances of rejection by the body and it will also give much more people the chance to access an organ for transplant which is currently not the case. One of these incidences is the case of scientists from Massachusetts General Hospital and those from Harvard medical school, Now a team of scientists from Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School has gotten one step closer, using adult skin cells to regenerate functional human heart tissue, according to a study published recently in the journal Circulation Research(Ossola 1). The technology is still under development due to the dynamics that come with each organ but it is expected to be of much help for the patient in dire need of a transplant. The national institute of health explains, Stem cells, directed to differentiate into specific cell types, offer the possibility of a renewable source of replacement cells and tissues to treat diseases including macular degeneration, spinal cord injury, stroke, burns, heart disease, diabetes, osteoarthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis (National Institute of Health 1). It is an indication of the importance of stem cells it the provision of more transplant organs and opportunities for individuals experiencing organ degenerative conditions.
Artificial organs are more cost effective than harvested organs. Since artificial organs are somewhat new the costs can range from 100k to 300k for something like a heart transplant. Artificial hearts are not that reliable and patients who meet the criteria for an artificial are in the final stages of heart disease. The patients that do not receive the heart transplant do not usually live beyond 6 months. While the artificial hearts are sometimes unreliable, it allows patients to live for a couple of years. The cost to maintain the artificial hearts in patients will significantly raise the longer the patient lives. Since the heart is very expensive, they are normally used for research purposes and collect data to further improve the artificial heart and possibly make cheaper. As Lubeck states, the current state of development of the artificial heart, provides an opportunity to collect data on investigational artificial heart performance, clinical results, patient status, and economic, and social costs (Lubeck 374). Therefore, development of artificial organs is headed towards the provision of quality organs at costs every individual can manage.
Bernard, Jean. Ethics and Organ Transplantation. Rejection and Tolerance,. (1994): n. pag. Web.
Gopalratnam, Arjun. Replacing Body Parts- NOVA Science Now. SBE, 2011. Web.
Lubeck, Deborah P. The Artificial Heart: Costs, Risks, and BenefitsAn Update. International journal of technology assessment in health care 2.03 (1986): 369386. Print.
National Institute of Health. Stem Cell Basics 1. US Department of Health and Human Services, 2016. Web.
OppenheimerFunds. OppenheimerFundsVoice: The Surprising Future Of Artificial Organ Transplants. Forbes Magazine 2017. Web.
Ossola, Alexandra. Scientists Grow Full-Sized, Beating Human Hearts From Stem Cells. N.p., 2016. Web. Popular Science.
Sifferlin, Alexandra. Artificial and Implantable Organs | 5 Discoveries That Will Change The Future of Organ Transplants. N.p., 2013. Web.
Vogel, Gretchen. Organs Made to Order. Smithsonian Institution 2010. Web.
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