Biomedical Engineering

Kylee, Rachel B., Rachel G., Lydia


There is currently a shortage in donors, causing people to be on the waiting list a dangerous long amount of time. There have been two responses to try and grow organs to try and make the waiting lists obsolete. Dr. Esmail Zanjani is working on using sheep to host organs that can be transplanted into humans (Westphal). Also, Dr. Atala is working in the laboratory to reconstruct organs using stem cells taken from the diseased organs. He has already successfully transplanted a bladder into multiple children and teenagers with long term success (Baird).

Organs: 3-D Printing

3-D printing is being used to not only make non-living objects, but living objects as well, such as tissues and organs. For instance, surgeon Anthony Atala created a life-size kidney, although it was not fully functional due to its lack of blood vessels and tubules (Harmon). Jordan Miller, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania, came up with the idea to use a sugar mold, which would essentially create a cast for which the organ would be created around and would create the necessary tubules and vessels (Harmon). Also, the company Organovo has been making muscle tissue very similar to human tissue, which has allowed testing of drugs before they even reach clinical trials, thus saving drug companies billions of dollars (Gravitz). Even though the use of 3-D printers may seem costly and menial, the overall effect would greatly reduce the price of drugs and the advancements would improve the general knowledge of the world.

Gene Therapy

Gene Therapy is a new technology that could revolutionize the way we think about biomedicine. Rather than seeing symptoms of an illness and treating accordingly, what if we were to discover a disease and cure it before it had even manifested? What if we could do this before the carrier had even been born? For genetic diseases this could become reality. Gene therapy is a procedure in which a healthy form of the missing or defective gene is inserted into a benign virus which is then injected into a patient where it transmits the healthy gene throughout a patients body; basically rewriting/correcting their DNA and treating their disorder. Human testing is currently taking place, and right now the focus is on fetal application. Gene therapy could cure serious genetic disorders such as Sickle Cell Anemia in an unborn baby at just 14 weeks. Though there are risks involved and the critics argue against it, the amazing medical advancements that could be made using gene therapy far outweigh the risks and ethical concerns.

Future of Bio Engineering

The future of biological engineering is very uncertain as to whether or not we will be able to harness our creativity and focus its powers on just the medical field , however, there are several advances that focus on maintaining, monitoring, and diagnosing people's health problems that look very encouraging. Where as many people are trying to alter their biological makeup for enhancement purposes, many scientists are working on altering our DNA in order to help make us more immune to viruses. By implanting a more resistant strain of DNA into our cells, they hope to immobilize viruses by not allowing them into our cells to replicate (Church). Along with this, scientists have also started working on producing equipment that could mesh the human body with technology in order to monitor and diagnose problems. One such experiment resulted in the creation of a tooth circuit that is able to detect the trace amounts of bacteria that pass through our mouths and warn the user of its findings (Rosen). Another idea that has been tested is the installation of brain and body parts into the human body during reconstruction surgery that could sync with electronics. When the injured area begins to heal, the new additions would grow into the body and signal if problems ever occurred (Church). Even though the future of bio engineering is unclear, these projects show promise within the medical field that this technology can be used in appropriate ways.


Baird, Stephen. "Regenerative Medicine: A Growing Future." Technology Teacher May 2008: 10-15. Science Reference Center. Web. 17 Nov. 2013.

Church, George, and Ed Regis. "Recipe for Immortality." Discover Oct. 2012: 60-76. Science Reference Center. Web. 17 Nov. 2013.

Gravitz, Lauren. "Printing Muscle." Technology Review Mar. 2012: 80-82. Wilson OmniFile Full Text Select Edition. Web. 17 Nov. 2013.

Harmon, Katherine. "A Sweet Solution for Replacing Organs." Scientific American Apr. 2013: 54-55. Science Reference Center. Web. 17 Nov. 2013.

Kraise, Kenneth W. "A Life Encoded: How the Bad Boy of Synthetic Biology Is Changing the World." Humanist May 2008: 37-38. MAS Ultra - School Edition. Web. 17 Nov. 2013.

"Need an Organ? Print 3D Stem Cells." New Scientist 9 Feb. 2013: 18. Science Reference Center. Web. 17 Nov. 2013.

Neimark, Jill. "The Age Genetic Medicine Begins." Discover Jan. 2010: 34. MAS Ultra - School Edition. Web. 17 Nov. 2013.

Rosen, Meghan. "Beginnings of Bionic." Science News 17 Nov. 2012: 18-21. Health Source: Consumer Edition. Web. 17 Nov. 2013.

Senthilingam, Meera. "Healed in the Womb." New Scientist 15 Dec. 2012: 50-53. Science Reference Center. Web. 17 Nov. 2013.

Westphal, Sylvia P. "Growing Human Organs on the Farm." New Scientist 20 Dec. 2008: 4-5. Science Reference Center. Web. 17 Nov. 2013.