We’ve all seen the cool things that can be done with 3D printers, but now scientists at a Chinese university in eastern Zhejiang Province have made an incredible leap for medical technology by producing a 3D printed kidney that they say can function as a human organ. This development comes two years after Anthony Atala printed a human kidney live at a TED event two years ago, and researchers are progressing in their effort to produce a viable organ that will be suitable for transplant.

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While this development is one in a long line of technological acheivements, it remains a pretty amazing breakthrough in modern medicine. However, there are still many drawbacks to using a 3D printer to produce organs. Although these organs can carry out the same functions as a real human kidney, they have no blood vessels or nerves, and consist of cells that can only live for up to four months.

Nonetheless, researchers behind the project hope their printed kidneys can help millions of people whose survival depends on organ transplants. Xu Mingen, one of the researchers, says that in China less than 1% of patients who need organ transplants are able to get them. However, the goal of producing a living organ for transplant could still be around 10 to 15 years away.

Via Fast Co-Exist

Images via Al Alwi Blogspot