FAX the stem cells please

I’m not sure how this works or what fundamentalists will make of it. OK, on second part we know what they’ll think, they won’t like it. But apparently a group of researchers have used Three D printing technology to fashion a human embryonic stem cell, or literally a facsimile thereof:

Link – In order to make sure that technique was successful, the scientists then performed a number of tests. They made sure that the hESCs remained alive after printing and tested to see if they maintained their ability to differentiate into different types of cells. In addition, they also checked to see if the concentration, characterization and distribution of the hESCs were accurate enough to make the valve-based printing method viable.

It turned out that this method wasn’t only viable, but precise. The scientists found that the printed cells, driven by pneumatic pressure and controlled by the opening and closing of a microvalve, were in order and maintained their ability to be differentiated into any other cell type.

If it can be done with single cells, it might be done with tissue made off several different kinds of cells. Since organs are made of tissues, it might be possible to FAX and Three D print organs; next up would be entire metazoan organisms. Could we FAX a person, or a clone anyway, someday?

Maybe. Then no need to flip open the communicator and tell Mr Scott one to beam up. We could just could open the smart phone and say “I’ll FAX myself right over in a couple of minutes!”