Usual treatment for someone diagnosed with hypothyroidism is a lifelong synthetic hormone replacement therapy. Hormone replacement therapy does provide a certain level of thyroid hormones but almost completely excludes fine regulation of thyroid status according to current physiological conditions.
Despite the complex problems thyroid can cause, scientists see thyroid gland as an organ with fairly simple structure, which is easy for 3D printing. The reason scientists are so excited about 3D printed, transplantable organs is because patients do not need to wait for a donor and organs can be created on demand. But even more important reason to invest in 3D printing is that organs created from a patient’s own stem cells carry much less risk of rejection, which is essential for patients with autoimmune disease as Hashimoto thyroiditis.
A group of scientists at Russian company 3D Bioprinting Solutions printed thyroid gland. The 3D printed thyroids were then transplanted into mice with hypothyroidism. Tests after three and five weeks show significant increase of critical thyroid hormone levels. Moreover, the results show that bioprinted thyroids were able to successfully mature and integrate with the rest of the body.
We are probably not far away from the time when patients facing thyroid problems, the physician’s message will be: No worries, we will print a thyroid for you.