The post-industrial rates of development of mankind, namely science and technology, are so great that they could not have been imagined 100 years ago. What used to be read only in popular science fiction has now appeared in the real world.
The level of development of medicine in the 21st century is higher than ever. Diseases that were considered deadly in the past are successfully treated today. However, the problems of oncology, AIDS and many other diseases have not yet been solved. Fortunately, in the near future there will be a solution to these problems, one of which will be the cultivation of human organs.
Basics of bioengineering
Science, using the informational basis of biology and using analytical and synthetic methods to solve its problems, originated not so long ago. Unlike conventional engineering, which uses technical sciences, mostly mathematics and physics, for its activities, bioengineering goes further and uses innovative methods in the form of molecular biology.
One of the main tasks of the newly minted scientific and technical sphere is the cultivation of artificial organs in the laboratory for the purpose of their further transplantation into the body of a patient whose organ has failed due to damage or deterioration. Based on three-dimensional cellular structures, scientists have been able to advance in the study of the influence of various diseases and viruses on the activity of human organs.
Unfortunately, so far these are not full-fledged organs, but only organelles - rudiments, an unfinished collection of cells and tissues that can only be used as experimental samples. Their performance and livability are tested on experimental animals, mainly on different rodents.
Historical reference. Transplantology
The growth of bioengineering as a science was preceded by a long period of development of biology and other sciences, the purpose of which was to study the human body. As early as the beginning of the 20th century, transplantation received an impetus to its development, the task of which was to study the possibility of transplanting a donor organ to another person. The creation of techniques capable of preserving donor organs for some time, as well as the availability of experience and detailed plans for transplantation, allowed surgeons from all over the world to successfully transplant organs such as the heart, lungs, kidneys in the late 60s.
At the moment, the principle of transplantation is most effective in case the patient is in mortal danger. The main problem is the acute shortage of donor organs. Patients mayto wait for their turn for years, without waiting for it. In addition, there is a high risk that the transplanted donor organ may not take root in the recipient's body, as it will be considered as a foreign object by the patient's immune system. In opposition to this phenomenon, immunosuppressants were invented, which, however, cripple rather than cure - human immunity is catastrophically weakening.
The advantages of artificial creation over transplantation
One of the main competitive differences between the method of growing organs and their transplantation from a donor is that in the laboratory, organs can be produced on the basis of tissues and cells of the future recipient. Basically, stem cells are used, which have the ability to differentiate into cells of certain tissues. The scientist is able to control this process from the outside, which significantly reduces the risk of future rejection of the organ by the human immune system.
Moreover, the method of artificial organ cultivation can produce an unlimited number of them, thereby satisfying the vital needs of millions of people. The principle of mass production will significantly reduce the price of organs, saving millions of lives and significantly increasing human survival and pushing back the date of biological death.
Achievements in bioengineering
Today, scientists are able to grow the rudiments of future organs - organelles on which various diseases, viruses and infections are tested in order to trace the processinfections and develop countermeasures. The success of the functioning of organelles is checked by transplanting them into the bodies of animals: rabbits, mice.
It is also worth noting that bioengineering has achieved some success in creating full-fledged tissues and even in growing organs from stem cells, which, unfortunately, cannot yet be transplanted to a person due to their inoperability. However, at the moment, scientists have learned how to artificially create cartilage, blood vessels and other connecting elements.
Skin and bones
Not so long ago, scientists at Columbia University succeeded in creating a bone fragment similar in structure to the joint of the lower jaw connecting it to the base of the skull. The fragment was obtained through the use of stem cells, as in the cultivation of organs. A little later, the Israeli company Bonus BioGroup managed to invent a new method of recreating a human bone, which was successfully tested on a rodent - an artificially grown bone was transplanted into one of its paws. In this case, again, stem cells were used, only they were obtained from the patient's adipose tissue and subsequently placed on a gel-like bone frame.
Since the 2000s, doctors have been using specialized hydrogels and methods of natural regeneration of damaged skin to treat burns. Modern experimental techniques make it possible to cure severe burns in a few days. The so-called Skin Gun spraysa special mixture with the patient's stem cells on the damaged surface. There are also major advances in creating stable functioning skin with blood and lymph vessels.
Growing organs from cells
Recently, scientists from Michigan managed to grow in the laboratory part of the muscle tissue, which, however, is twice as weak as the original. Similarly, scientists in Ohio created three-dimensional stomach tissues that were able to produce all the enzymes needed for digestion.
Japanese scientists have done the almost impossible - grown a fully functioning human eye. The problem with transplantation is that it is not yet possible to attach the optic nerve of the eye to the brain. In Texas, it was also possible to artificially grow lungs in a bioreactor, but without blood vessels, which casts doubt on their performance.
Prospects for development
It won't be long before the moment in history when a person can be transplanted most of the organs and tissues created under artificial conditions. Already, scientists from all over the world have developed projects, experimental samples, some of which are not inferior to the originals. Skin, teeth, bones, all internal organs after some time can be created in laboratories and sold to people in need.
New technologies are also accelerating the development of bioengineering. 3D printing, which has become widespread in many areas of human life, will be useful inas part of growing new organs. 3D bioprinters have been experimentally used since 2006, and in the future they will be able to create 3D workable models of biological organs by transferring cell cultures to a biocompatible basis.
Bioengineering as a science, the purpose of which is the cultivation of tissues and organs for their further transplantation, was born not so long ago. The leaping pace at which she is making progress is marked by significant achievements that will save millions of lives in the future.
Stem-cell-grown bones and internal organs will eliminate the need for donor organs, which are already in short supply. Already, scientists have a lot of developments, the results of which are not very productive yet, but have great potential.