Printing Human Organs for Transplant is Not Science Fiction
The third annual Wayne and Deborah Granquist Health Policy Grand Rounds at Dartmouth-Hitchcock recently featured three innovative leaders talking about “The Juxtaposition of Science, Engineering and Medicine to Improve Clinical Care.” Moderated by CEO and President Dr. James N. Weinstein, Dean Kamen and Dr. Martine Rothblatt talked about human organs and the probability that it will be years, not decades, before organs can be manufactured and then shipped in real time to patients for transplanting
Dean Kamen is the CEO of DEKA Research and Development in Manchester, NH. He is an inventor, entrepreneur and champion of inspiring young people through FIRST. Dr. Martine Rothblatt is founder and CEO of United Therapeutics, founder and former CEO of Sirius XM Radio, attorney and author.
The two are working together, with D-H possibly serving as a research and trials site, on organ manufacturing. As futuristic as this sounds, Rothblatt reminded the audience that scientists have confirmed that cells can be re-differentiated into many different cell types. She also said “Within the life of virtually everybody in this room, the overwhelming conventional wisdom, worldwide — all the scientific elites — was that decoding the human genome was not possible. It was too big, too complicated, way outstripped the computing power that was available. And yet, not only was it done, it was accomplished ahead of schedule.”
Kamen also observed that immense possibilities are often viewed as outlandish. Remarking on the sceptics who doubted his wearable infusion pumps would work, Kamen shared that “we were told we were nuts. People are never going to be allowed to do essentially life support outside of a hospital. This was in the late 1980s. When everybody tells me we’re nuts, I’m always thinking this is a good project!” His peritoneal dialysis system became the standard of care for dialysis.
Kamen is now collaborating with Rothblatt and building “integrative systems to make bioreactions, to make this automated and reliable and safe and consistent and then we can get it to scale and start supplying some of the 300,000 people waiting for kidneys and lungs and livers.” Both entrepreneurs are talking with Dartmouth-Hitchcock about using ImagineCare as a platform for monitoring these patients and providing remote and outpatient therapy.
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