02 April, 2013

A To Z Blogging Challenge: Biotechnology And Advances In Biomedical Engineering

Biotechnology is a combination of natural biological systems and artificial human-created technology and/or uses. It's commonly associated with genetics, pharmaceutical drugs, etc., though the history of biotechnology stretches back thousands of years to when people first began using yeast to make bread and selectively bred plants to give better crop yields.

A recent development in the field of biotechnology/biomedical engineering is 3D-printing of cells and, subsequently, organs. By using living cells, scientists have "printed" out human ears made out of cartilage, just as normal ears are. Researchers have yet to develop an ear created from a specific person's cells (a combination of rat collagen and cow cartilage was used in previous experiments), but that would be the next step in creating organs with the patient's own DNA.

Source: Wikimedia Commons, CC-SA-3.0, by Mnolf




Would you agree to have your cells removed, printed, and implanted, should a method of growing cells for printing be achieved? Or do you think the technology has a long way to go before it will be practical?

----The Golden Eagle


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I would prefer my own cells to a cow's, that's for sure!

Connie Keller said...

Wow. I hadn't heard about this. Very interesting.

klahanie said...

Amazing stuff. Did you know, using a 3D printer, they recently recreated a man's jaw?

Enjoy the alphabet challenge, my friend.

Gary :)

DWei said...

Can't wait. I'd totally have my organs cloned and put on ice if possible. Then if anything horrible happened to me I could just swap them out.

Pat Hatt said...

Be so much easier if that came due, could save lots of lives. And give people some limbs back too, maybe.

Nick Wilford said...

It might need some more refining but it might be a great way to treat things like liver cancer.

JeffO said...

I'm wondering if this is the path to immortality.

Mark Noce said...

I think this will be the wave of the future and be very useful, but like everything needs to be handled carefully. i.e. gunpowder was pretty revolutionary, but in the wrong hands causes issues today.

Old Kitty said...

Gosh this is totally cutting edge science!!! Take care

Wendy aka Quillfeather said...

I've read quite a bit about this actually. Incredible technology.

And yes, I would agree to having my cells removed and printed. But, what I do object to, however, is using animals. In any shape or form. Unlike us, they cannot give their consent.

Maurice Mitchell said...

If they can make a new nose for Joan River's it would do us all a favor. Fascinating post Eagle.

Romance Book Haven said...

I loved this technical explanation. Very informative and interesting!


Mark Means said...

Very interesting and I wonder just how close cloning is to becoming 'the norm'?

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

I would absolutely agree with that and want it for all my children though I think the science isn't close to it yet.

C. Lee McKenzie said...

We're leaping ahead so quickly on this front that I can't keep up. The possibilities for the future of life is beyond my feeble brain. I'm waiting for the scientific community to redefine life. That will be interesting.

Elaine Smith said...

This was a fascinating post. Also, this is exactly where I've been wading for my adult crime fiction which I need to get beyond an outline.

Christine Rains said...

It could save lives and help people who have lost parts or whole body parts. I think once they figure it out, it will explode so quickly, but that might not be for a while yet.

D.G. Hudson said...

Biotech is interesting. I'm reading Oryx and Crake by Atwood and the storyline is about biotech in the future.

As long as some mad scientist doesn't start dealing in the black market. . .

Crystal Collier said...

This is yet another field I'd love to know more about. If I could freeze time (but the time-freezing ray is dethawing...) I'd totally sit down and spend a month delving.

Brinda said...

I think this is a very cool possibility for so many medical issues.

Liz said...

I still don't get this whole 3D printer thing. I guess it's like smartphones--I'll "get it" when I get one.

I suppose if I need the help, I might be willing to allow it. But only if I really, really needed it.

Wendy Lu said...

Funny, we recently talked about this in my health psychology class. It's crazy to think how advanced technology is becoming these days! Great theme for the A-Z challenge; I wanted to participate this year but sadly my exam schedule won't allow it. :( Have fun, my dear friend!

~Wendy Lu

The Red Angel Blog

mshatch said...

I would agree to have my cells removed to be used later. I want to say we're a ways away from this technology but having done some research into all this recently for my own novel I'm not so sure. There's some pretty cool stuff happening in this field.

Damyanti said...

Like all scientific advancements, this has potential for great benefit to mankind, and great misuse.

Damyanti @Daily(w)rite
Co-host, A to Z Challenge 2013

Twitter: @AprilA2Z

Cindy Dwyer said...

There has been a lot of legitimate research into whether it would be possible to regrow arms, organs, etc. I think it has very real potential.

It's possible to do live liver transplants because that's one of the few organs which regenerates itself.

Carol Kilgore said...

I've heard of printing organs and more. It's fascinating! Think what all will be possible in 50-100 years.

Krista McLaughlin said...

Wow, printing organs. It's a bit odd and creepy for me. Though it would be nice for those who need transplants if they could make them fully functional.

Jeff Hargett said...

The whole 3D printing technology fascinates me. It's amazing what can be done even today.

loverofwords said...

I would rather use my own stem cells. Stem cell research is encouraging, especially in spinal cord injury.

Carrie Butler said...

I think this technology has a way to go, but it's certainly interesting to follow! :)

Rachel Morgan said...

Sounds amazing!

Andrew Leon said...

I think I will not be crossing over with you much this year. It makes me kind of sad.

Paul Tobin said...

I have difficulty with the ethics of the process as it is at the moment. I personally do not believe it is ethical to experiment on animals. In theory the idea of replacing worn out organs is very attractive but I am not sure that they would be available to all. Plus as personality is a social construct I do not think that a whole new me could ever be grown. You post raises a number of interesting issues.

Inger said...

Hello dear Eagle, I sort of lost touch with you, but now I'm glad you're in my neighborhood on the A to Z list. Brilliant information as always. I think I would wait a while to see where the technology was going. Or maybe not, I'm not sure.

The Golden Eagle said...

Alex: Yeah, I would too. :P

Connie: Glad you found it interesting!

Klahanie: I hadn't heard that. I'm impressed.

Thank you. :)

DWei: I wouldn't put that too far into the future. Scientists are coming up with all kinds of ways to engineer living things.

Pat: Definitely!

Nick: I hadn't thought of that. But replacing a cancerous organ with one generated from healthy cells could be very useful.

JeffO: An intriguing thought. I wonder if they'll ever be able to recreate a brain . . .

Mark: Definitely. There are huge risks involved once you start changing things in a living organism.

Old Kitty: Yup. :)

Wendy: I don't like the whole attitude toward animals in science, either. They're animals, not test tubes.

Maurice: LOL.

Thank you!

Nas: Glad you enjoyed the post. :)

Mark: I don't know. I'm sure it will become almost easy as time goes on.

Susan: It certainly needs work.

Lee: A lot of SF has addressed that idea--once people start creating things that can be independent, what is "alive"?

Elaine: A crime fiction novel based on biotechnology would be really cool!

Christine: Who knows. I wouldn't put success in the field too far into the future, but there are obviously a lot of obstacles.

D.G.: There probably are some scientists who would do that. Human nature, unfortunately, will likely cause problems as technology becomes more powerful . . .

Crystal: My ray is doing the same thing! It must be some kind of software glitch; maybe it runs on Windows. :P

I'd love to explore so many scientific subjects more.

Brinda: I do, too.

Liz: I wouldn't want my organs copied unless I actually required it, either.

Wendy: Cool!

I'm glad you like my theme. It's too bad you won't be participating this year; maybe next? :)

Mshatch: There is!

Damyanti: Agreed.

Cindy: Really? I didn't know that. Interesting fact!

Carol: I wish I could travel to the future and find out . . .

Krista: That was the basis for the experiments, I think. To see if an actual, functional body part could be created.

Jeff: It is. We may not be the society portrayed in early SF, but there's some cool stuff!

Loverofwords: It could help a lot of people.

Carrie: I love learning about all the new things scientists are doing. :)

Rachel: I'm excited to see where it goes . . .

Andrew: I'm repeating a few of the topics I covered last year and including recent developments in the fields; unless you're repeating subjects as well, you're probably right. Aw. But I'm looking forward to seeing what you'll be posting!

Paul: An identical copy of someone probably can never be grown--unless they go through the exact same circumstances as the original.

Inger: Hello! :) It's great to see you in the comments again. And hey, we're list buddies.

Trisha F said...

I think science is amazing, but I still wish they didn't have to use animals to make headway ;)

mymy said...

oh yes, using your own DNA to make yourself an organ (or other body parts) that you've lost (or need) would be perfect!

The Golden Eagle said...

Trisha: It would be nice if that were true.

Mymy: It could certainly be a life-changer.