Researcher Believes 3D Printing May Lead to the Creation of Superhuman Organs Providing Humans with New Abilities
Posted December 6, 2014on:
Evolution is what got us here today, if you accept the scientific approach to our creation. It was processes such as ‘survival of the fittest’ which led us, as well as other earthly creatures, to develop some of the traits, senses, and abilities that we possess today.
For superhero fans, especially those who love the X-Men, you know that these superhuman characters acquired their powers through the process of evolution. Little mutations in genes led to them become the recipient of more than simple human-like abilities. Wouldn’t we all like to have the ability to see through objects, climb walls, retract claws from our fists, or have superhuman strength? Well, one speculative designer from the Royal College of Art in London, named Agatha (Agi) Haines, believes that one day in the future this may all be possible, thanks to a technology called bioprinting.
After more than six years of intensive effort, and repeated failures that made the quest at times seem futile, Harvard Stem Cell Institute (HSCI) researchers at Boston Children’s Hospital (BCH) and Harvard’s Department of Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology (HSCRB) have successfully converted mouse and human skin cells into pain sensing neurons that respond to a number of stimuli that cause acute and inflammatory pain.
Caption: This image shows human noxious stimulus detecting sensory neurons produced by converting skin cells with a set of five genes to this new fate — enabling study of ‘pain’ in a dish.
Credit: (c) Liz Buttermore
This “disease in a dish” model of pain reception may advance the understanding of different types of pain, identify why individuals differ in their pain responses or risk of developing chronic pain, and make possible the development of improved drugs to treat pain. A report on the work was given advance on-line release today by the journal Nature Neuroscience.
OF the three most fundamental scientific questions about the human condition, two have been answered.First, what is our relationship to the rest of the universe? Copernicus answered that one. We’re not at the center. We’re a speck in a large place.
Second, what is our relationship to the diversity of life? Darwin answered that one. Biologically speaking, we’re not a special act of creation. We’re a twig on the tree of evolution.
Third, what is the relationship between our minds and the physical world? Here, we don’t have a settled answer. We know something about the body and brain, but what about the subjective life inside? Consider that a computer, if hooked up to a camera, can process information about the wavelength of light and determine that grass is green. But we humans also experience the greenness. We have an awareness of information we process. What is this mysterious aspect of ourselves?
Scientists have found a way to beat back the hands of time and fight the ravages of old age, at least in mice. A new study finds that mice bred without a specific pain sensor, or receptor, live longer and are less likely to develop diseases such as diabetes in old age. What’s more, exposure to a molecule found in chili peppers and other spicy foods may confer the same benefits as losing this pain receptor—meaning that humans could potentially benefit, too.
Could the elixir of youth be as simple as a protein found in young blood? In recent years, researchers studying mice found that giving old animals blood from young ones can reverse some signs of aging, and last year one team identified a growth factor in the blood that they think is partly responsible for the anti-aging effect on a specific tissue–the heart. Now that group has shown this same factor can also rejuvenate muscle and the brain.
“This is the first demonstration of a rejuvenation factor” that is naturally produced, declines with age, and reverses aging in multiple tissues, says Harvard stem cell researcher Amy Wagers, who led efforts to isolate and study the protein. Independently, another team has found that simply injecting plasma from young mice into old mice can boost learning.