Nonlinear Thinking: Printing Muscle

If this doesn’t blow your mind,  nuttin’ will.

Technology Review writes,

In a small clean room tucked into the back of San Diego–based startup Organovo, Chirag Khatiwala is building a thin layer of human skeletal muscle. He inserts a cartridge of specially prepared muscle cells into a 3-D printer, which then deposits them in uniform, closely spaced lines in a petri dish. This arrangement allows the cells to grow and interact until they form working muscle tissue that is nearly indistinguishable from something removed from a human subject.

The technology could fill a critical need. Many potential drugs that seem promising when tested in cell cultures or animals fail in clinical trials because cultures and animals are very different from human tissue. Because Organovo’s product is so similar to human tissue, it could help researchers identify drugs that will fail long before they reach clinical trials, potentially saving drug companies billions of dollars. So far, Organovo has built tissue of several types, including cardiac muscle, lung, and blood vessels.

Unlike some experimental approaches that have used ink-jet printers to deposit cells, Organovo’s technology enables cells to interact with each other much the way they do in the body. They are packed tightly together and incubated, prompting them to adhere to each other and trade chemical signals. When they’re printed, the cells are kept bunched together in a paste that helps them grow, migrate, and align themselves properly. ­Muscle cells, for example, orient themselves in the same direction to create tissue that can contract.

So far, Organovo has made only small pieces of tissue, but its ultimate goal is to use its 3-D printer to make complete organs for transplants. Because the organs would be printed from a patient’s own cells, there would be less danger of rejection.

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3 Responses to Nonlinear Thinking: Printing Muscle

  1. Anonymous says:

    This brings up the issue of Locke’s Socks or Theseus’ Paradox. That is, If a changing thing really changes, there can’t literally be one and the same thing before and after the change. However, if there isn’t literally one and the same thing before and after the change, then no thing has really undergone any change.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Follow-up: Theseus’ Paradox has important implications for the debt crisis as follows:
    The Debtor’s Paradox. The ancient playwright Epicharmus tells the tale of a poor but resourceful debtor. When approached for payment, the man responds with a riddle. If you add a pebble to a collection of pebbles, you no longer have the same number. If you add a length to a cubit, you no longer have the same measure. In the same way, if you add a bit of matter to a portion of matter you no longer have the same entity. Since man is nothing more than a material object whose matter is constantly changing, we do not survive from one moment to the next. The debtor concludes that he is not the same person who incurred the debt, so he cannot be held responsible for payment. The exasperated creditor then strikes the debtor, who protests the abusive treatment. The creditor expresses sympathy, but points out that he cannot be held accountable for the assault. After all, material change has already taken place so, by the debtor’s own one line of reasoning, the guilty party is no longer present. The scene is intended to be comedic, but the argument is no laughing matter. The man who incurred the debt was constituted by one portion of matter, M1. The man who is approached for payment is constituted by a distinct portion of matter, M2 (where M2 consists of M1, together with some new matter). If constitution is identity, the debtor’s reasoning is sound: the man who is approached for payment is not the man who incurred the debt. More generally, the argument would show that it is impossible for human persons to survive the addition of any new parts.

  3. kman says:

    This plus the smart human like robots from your previous posts and the Terminator story comes so much closer to fruition. And when Skynet becomes aware, god help us.

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