The world’s first master’s degree in the 3D printing of body parts will soon be available at two Australian universities.
Less than 30 years after 3D printers were invented, Australian students will learn how to make human body parts with them.
Queensland University of Technology Professor Dietmar Hutmacher launched the world’s first master’s degree in biofabrication, as the technology is known, in Brisbane on Friday.
Biofabrication uses 3D printers to make biodegradable intricate plastic scaffolds of body tissue, which look like honeycombs.
The scaffolds are injected with stem cells and implanted in patients’ bodies. New tissue then grows around the scaffolds, which eventually dissolve.
Dr Hutmacher says biofabrication is being used to regrow bones, cartilage, muscle, nerves and skin.
The medical applications are endless – burns victims could grow new noses and ears, women suffering cancer could grow new breasts and arthritic grandparents could grow new hips.
Dr Hutmacher says with the right investment and research, patients could regrow any body part.
“It will be possible within 50 years to grow entire organs,” he told reporters.
The master’s program would be available to students at QUT, the University of Wollongong, the Netherlands’ University Medical Center Utrecht and Germany’s University of Wurzburg.
The course begins later this year.