Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Scientists 3D-print a 'brain' to learn the secret behind its folds

Today, 3D-bioprinting has promise within medical research because it replicates human organ structures. In the future, 3D-bioprinting will create fully functioning human organs for transplants and research. "By 3D-printing a fake gel brain and watching it "grow," scientists at Harvard University, have discovered how the human cortex develops its creepy, classic folds"(Khan, 2016).

The article discussed that "experiments with human brains can be "ethically questionable"" (Khan, 2016). So, "[Scientists] used magnetic resonance imagery from a smooth fetal brain at 22 weeks' gestation and 3D-printed a cast to make a fake brain out of gel... The scientists submerged the brain in a liquid solvent that caused that stretchy cortex-like layer to start expanding" (Khan, 2016). I think 3D-printing is important within medical research because it can help scientists better understand neurology without experiments with human brains and experiments with rats or other small animals. However, I think 3D-printing can be "ethically questionable" because "it could be used to develop human capacities beyond what is normal for human beings" (Dodds, 2015).

By 3D-printing a fake gel brain, scientists can better understand a variety of different neurological disorders, such as, autism and schizophrenia. Ellen Kuhl said, "their findings could have far-reaching clinical consequences for diagnosing, treating and preventing a wide variety of neurological disorders" (Khan, 2016). So, it can help scientists identify topological markers for the early diagnosis of neurological disorders, and ultimately, design more effective treatment strategies. I think 3D-printing important because it can revolutionize health care. Early diagnosis and effective treatment strategies will save lives and avert treatment costs, which will be cost effective. However, a 3D-printing will not actually replace an organ. So, an experiment with human brains is more realistic and functional.

I think the article dealt with all important aspects of 3D-printing. The article discussed the problem of discovering how the human cortex develops and solution of using a 3D-printed cast to make a fake brain out of gel. Also, the article discussed the ethics of experiments with human brains and how scientists can better understand a variety of different neurological disorders by 3D-printing. However, the article didn't discuss how "physical forces -- not just biochemical processes alone -- play a critical role in neurodevelopment" (Khan, 2016). Neurodevelopment is a complex, dynamic process. So, a 3D-printing isn't as realistic and functional as a human brain. Also, I think 3D-printing helps scientistic better understand, not completely understand their patients.

Dodds, Susan. "3D Printing Raises Ethical Issues in Medicine." › Analysis and Opinion (ABC Science). 11 Feb. 2015. Web. 09 Feb. 2016.
Khan, Amina. "Scientists 3D-print a 'brain' to Learn the Secret behind Its Folds." Los Angeles Times. 3 Feb. 2016. Web. 09 Feb. 2016.

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