Need a New Heart? NASA’s 3D Bioprinting of Organs in Space

Wow, can you believe NASA scientists are using the International Space Station to develop 3D-printed human organs? It sounds like sci-fi, but it’s becoming reality! 

And the weightlessness of space allows organs to grow in three dimensions without the need for the support of a gravity-rich environment like Earth.  

A company called Redwire has created a special 3D bioprinter called the BioFabrication Facility (BFF) that is onboard the space station. This cool printer recently won Popular Science’s 2023 Best of What’s New Award in health.

But printing organs isn’t just to win awards – it could save lives here on Earth. Heart disease is still the #1 cause of death in America, and we don’t have enough organ donors. The BFF is trying to print heart tissue patches that could repair damaged hearts someday. Wouldn’t that be incredible?

The BFF has already successfully printed its first human meniscus tissue in space – that’s the cartilage in your knee joint. Since muscles and joints get damaged easily, this could really help astronauts on future missions as well as people right here on Earth recovering from surgery.

The Russian space agency, ROSCOSMOS,  did initial testing for 3D printing in space way back in 2018! An American startup called LambdaVision  in partnership with Space Tango has printed over 200 layers of proteins that mimic retina tissue, which could help blind patients see again someday. How mindblowing would that be?

And get this – the European Space Agency just tested a HANDHELD bioprinter, Bioprint First Aid,  that can print skin bandages from a patient’s own cells in minutes! Talk about sci-fi stuff – that’s practically a real-life medigun from Team Fortress 2! They hope it can quickly heal wounds on Earth and in space.

So while it may seem unbelievable, space agencies and companies are making huge breakthroughs in bioprinting human organs and tissues in space.This will help astronauts pack lightly on future missions, being able to print what they need in a medical emergency in space. 

And like many NASA innovations, this technology will be used here on Earth. It’s no longer just science fiction – soon we could be healing hearts, restoring sight, and patching up wounds in no time. The future is now, so keep your eyes to the stars!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *