When it comes to touting discoveries that will change the world, we’ve all heard some tall tails. These three real and creative discoveries, however, could change the way we replace organs (through bioprinting), fight cancer (by changing a cell’s micro-environment), and produce energy (using quantum levitation and locking).
1) Anthony Atala on Printing a Human Kidney
Growing new organs (or regenerative medicine) is one solid option for replacing failing human organs and it has received a lot of attention over the years. Another method (with real potential) for replacing organs, however, is that of bioprinting. The TED Talk below covers various approaches to replacing human organs, and about mid-way through Anthony Atala covers the progress of bioprinting. This method began as a result of the invention of an ink-jet printer and could eventually make organ replacement no longer a matter of finding a donor. I can just imagine the frustration when you get a printer error: “PC LOAD LETTER?”
2) Mina Bissell: Experiments that point to a new understanding of cancer
Bissell’s work shows that cancer does not automatically become a tumor, but instead depends upon its particular environment or architecture. Changing the micro-environment changes the cell. With the right extracellular matrix or architecture, cells organize and work properly. I’m not a biologist, but it appears to me that Bissell’s work, which helps to provide structure to cells, is intimately related to bioprinting.
3) Boaz Almog “levitates” a superconductor
In this last video, Boaz Almog levitates a disk that can lift 70,000 times its own weight. Other than being amazingly cool, the process called “quantum levitation” could do more than simply make Back to the Future‘s flying skateboard possible, it offers a future of alternative energy.