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Medical Robots Growing Mini-Organs

Medical Robots Growing Mini-Organs
By Fanny Bates

TP 201811 future 01

鍖荤枟鏈哄櫒浜哄煿鍏讳汉浣撹糠浣犲櫒瀹

 

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TP 201811 future 02

Healthcare systems around the world continue to evolve everyday to deliver the best, up-to-date services to patients. From 1954, when the first successful organ transplant (a kidney) was performed by Dr. Joseph Murray and Dr.David Hume, till this day special attention has been paid to empowering organ transplanting by robotic technology and artificial intelligence. As of today, there are over 123,000 people in the US alone waiting for a donor and the most commonly transplanted organs include kidney, heart, lung, and liver. Due to the limited organ availability, scientists have discovered ways on how to incorporate modern-day technologies to speed up the process of patient's healing.

 

Medical Robotics

A report published by the Association of American Medical Colleges predicts a shortfall of 34,600 to 88,000 doctors by the year 2025. Medical robotics market will grow to $20 billion by the end of 2023. Rehabilitative and surgery robotics have gained great popularity and there are companies that have successfully managed to bring robotics to medical management. To replicate the complexity of a human organ, scientists have created organoids (mini organs), which are 3D tissues derived from human stem cells. These tiny structures resemble miniature organs and can grow up to 5 millimeters. They can have the following properties:

 

鈥 Multiple organ-specific cell types (combined in a human-like manner);


鈥 Capable of having some specific function of the organ (e.g. contraction, neural activity, endocrine secretion, filtration, excretion);


鈥 Cells are grouped together and spatially organized, just like human organs;

 

A multitude of organ structures have been recapitulated using organoids, such as cerebral, lung, heart, stomach or kidney organoids.

TP 201811 future 03

Robots Growing Kidney Organoids

Recently, a robotic system has been designed to rapidly produce human mini-organs derived from stem cells. It was created by the team of researchers at the University of Washington School of Medicine in Seattle. Research was published in the Cell Stem Cell, and it made a huge breakthrough in the world of tech - medicine. They have already started to use robots for an experimental procedure that tests a large number of samples all at once. Suddenly, researchers could test so many kidney organoids at the same time. It has led to discovering how different compounds affect polycystic kidney disease, a common condition with serious symptoms.

 

They could also test effects of drugs or genetic modification on these human-like organs. This will also prevent doctors from making errors which could ruin the experiment, and avoid accidents. According to Benjamin Freedman, assistant professor of medicine, who led the research effort, 鈥渏ust setting up an experiment of this magnitude would take a researcher all day, while the robot can do it in 20 minutes. This is a new 'secret weapon' in our fight against disease鈥.

 

Resembling rudimentary organs, they are ideal for biomedical research and offer a chance for mass production. For the first time in history, this group of scientists has succeeded in manufacturing mini-organs from pluripotent stem cells, which are capable of becoming any organ. Robots created plates containing 384 microwells and then arranged carefully into mini-kidneys over 21 days. Inside each plate, there were thousands of mini organs ready to be exploited and being further treated for drug efficiency.

 

The project was further developed by a research team at the University of Michigan Kidney Centre, which incorporated single-cell RNA sequencing, a new technique used to identify different types of cells in kidney organoids. It was first introduced by Dr. Tang in 2009 and became a powerful tool to identify and characterize the core of a single cell. In contrast to bulk RNA sequencing which allows doctors to examine genes, it does not allow us to understand the patterns within the cell. The research team concluded that "the value of this high-throughput platform is that we can now alter our procedure at any point, in many different ways, and quickly see which of these changes produces a better result."

 

The team hopes that this breakthrough could lead to new treatments and facilitate bioengineering of transplant organs. It will definitely lead to more intriguing breakthroughs in medicine, allowing us to live longer and have a better quality of life.

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