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IDEA BY: Robert Celik LOCATION: Canada CATEGORY: Science/Medical


IDEA BY: Robert Celik
CATEGORY: Science/Medical


Hearing that you will die without an immediate organ transplant has to be one of the most helpless feelings. With recent advances in biotechnology we can actually save more lives by bypassing the stage of transplantation.

Eugene Melnyk, owner of the Ottawa Senators, is an alumnus of my high school. He was recently in the news pleading for a new liver. As a result, about 2000 potential donors stepped forward and he was ultimately saved by a transplant. The urgency to find Mr. Melnyk a healthy liver should be consistent for everyone who requires a life saving transplant. In 2009, 83,000 people in the US were on a waiting list for a kidney transplant, however only 16,500 people actually received one (Beyar 2011). It is extremely frustrating because these statistics are entirely preventable. In fact, there is a way to save people’s lives without the need of a donor! The extracellular matrix (ECM) is essentially the external framework of organs, with embedded proteins that control cellular differentiation. Organs have traditionally been regrown in the laboratory by decellularization to the ECM framework, and the addition of pluri/multipotent stem cells to differentiate into functional organ tissues. We can leverage recent advances in technology to commercialize this procedure and grow entirely new and customized organs. 3D printing allows us to develop infinitely unique objects. Although complex, it is entirely possible to print extracellular matrices of organs, even at the microscopic level. These matrices can be populated with individuals’ mesenchymal stem cells sourced from bone marrow, or cells from umbilical cord tissue. This would allow us to grow functional organs for transplant within days. No longer would there be a waitlist for transplantation, and because the patients' own cells are used to repopulate the organs, there is virtually no risk of rejection. Grownate’s mission is to ‘grow’ functional organs and ‘donate’ them to those in need. The ultimate goal is to ensure that anyone who needs an organ can get one.