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The future of bioengineering

  1. Mar 7, 2015 #1
    I watched an episode of Vsauce just now and something in the video got me thinking, our organs are vulnerable to diseases and malfunction and with the advancement of technology and biology I wondered if in the near future we might be able to make lungs, kidneys, hearts etc that can do a better job than a natural one.

    I also wondered if instead of making these out of tissue using stem cells or however they do it at the moment, couldn't we just make these out of some other material so it wouldn't get any diseases at all? I imagine it to be such that your manufactured organs need to be charged from a socket in your chest lol.

    There's already been a made who had his faulty heart taken out and replaced with a device that simulates what a heart does and he is living just fine.

    Link here
    Last edited: Mar 7, 2015
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 7, 2015 #2
    Would you want to give up your healthy organs to get artificial ones? Even if they are in some respect, better?

    Cells are great little factories. Replacing them with tubings and electrical wires, if at all possible, must have its own disadvantages.
    As for growing cells into superior organs, growing differentiated tissue is currently very problematic. It has to do with gene expression and the epigenetic code, which seems like a really difficult problem to crack.

    Much easier to adjust or add some enzymes and have nature grow it's own cells and organs but with better proteins.

    Also, I don't think our organs are that vulnerable to disease and malfunction. Think about all the equipment that breaks down while your organs keep going fine.

    In fact, I like to think that as biotechnology progresses, more and more stuff will be made out of living cells, or derivatives from it, though living cells will have their own annoying limitations.
    It is just that a lot can be done with organic chemistry and life gives us a toolbox for free that it took a couple of billion of years to develop.
  4. Mar 7, 2015 #3


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    No, he only lived for a little over 5 weeks.

  5. Mar 8, 2015 #4


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    better is subjective, as there usually are tradeoffs.
    Longevity, energy consumption, performance, cost, corrosion resistance, modes of mechanical failure, repair methods, adaptability, size, weight. There is most likely more design features that have to be considered.

    for example,
    Age of patient: Adaptability, size, weight, longevity
    A mention of a mechanical heart. If replacing the biological heart of a small child, or even a baby, the mechanical heart surely does not grow in size with the patient. Several operation would have to be performed to match the replaceable heart with the size of the patient, even with switch and replace, as the cavity size for the old mechanical heart in the chest would not match the size of the new. Some discomfort would ensue with tissue displacement.

    Enhancement: Performance, energy consumption, specialization
    Do I really need a mechanical hand with enough grip that can twist nuts on a bolt for secure fastening, or a finger adapted to twist screws? Or an eye that can see like an eagle? Instead, I can already enhance what I already have for the task I wish to accomplish and use a wrench, screwdriver, eyeglasses, binoculars, and other technologies to sense and manipulate my surroundings in various and multiple ways.

    Durability: Longevity, failure, corrosion, repair, cost
    Skin is something someone does not think about much as being an organ, but it no less important for survival than the others. Self repair is evident when one receives a cut and a few days later it is healed. We might "protect" the cut from the outside environment with a bandaid, but nature has already thought of that by the formation of the scab.
    Also, here again with the heart as an example, how durable should we make the mechanical heart. Should its design life be 2 years to be replaced, or 30 years, 40 years, a lifetime. With switch and replace that is an interesting question.

    Quote - advancement of technology and biology
    I guess we will have to see what the future brings.
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