Forget Printing Money, Let’s Print Kidneys

Chris Higgins

In a recent TED Talk, surgeon Anthony Atala printed a prototype human kidney, using living cells and an 3D inkjet printer, onstage. When this happened, TED attendees took note. John Hodgman wrote: “A doctor just literally printed out a human kidney. I hope we are all going to get one in our gift bag.”

From the talk’s description:

Using similar technology, Dr. Atala’s young patient Luke Massella received an engineered bladder 10 years ago; we meet him onstage.

Atala’s talk is a good basic overview of recent work in regenerative medicine. It’s important to note that this work is experimental — this doesn’t mean we’ve got free kidneys for everybody ready today — but it’s an exciting first step (and indeed, the video has a huge text watermark over it at the moment you see the kidney explaining how it’s not ready for primetime). Anyway, Atala starts talking about the kidney starting around the 9:30 mark in the video, and you see it around the 11:00 mark. Note: there’s a high-resolution MP4 version here if you don’t like the tiny video below.