One of the most fascinating advances in technology is the three-dimensional (3D) technology that has revolutionized the world with its widespread applications. The aim of the technology is simple — apply three geometrical parameters such as height, length, and depth to make an object life-like.
Even though 3D technology was applied in motion pictures in the early 1920s, it peaked and became popular amongst the masses only after the movie ‘Avatar’ in 2009. Nowadays, it is a fairly common sight to see people wearing the anaglyph also known as 3D glasses, and watching 3D motion pictures. Apart from films, 3D tech has already made its presence felt in different industries solely because of its huge market potential, especially in the luxury industry.
It is now possible to design digital 3D models of products for visualization and companies have integrated this tech into their platforms to improve customer experience.
Another massive application of 3D technology is 3D printing which enables the creation of a physical object from a digital design. Recently, architects built sustainable homes using 3D printing as a response to the climate emergency.
But have you wondered about the influence of 3D in medicine? Well, here are some important examples –
3D cell culture — This is an emerging tool in mainstream research that offers a great substitute for animal models. Using this technique, it is possible to grow tissues in the lab exactly like how they grow inside the body. As the complexity and architecture of the tissues are preserved, these models are reliable and predictive. Thus they serve as an accurate model to study the mechanisms of a disease or for drug-based investigations especially in cancer research.
3D bioprinting — 3D bioprinting is like a sibling of 3D printing, which is used to create a tissue or an organ. Integrating the foundations of 3D cell culture, 3D bioprinting involves producing an organ or a tissue made using biomaterials and cells in a well-specified design. In 2014, Organovo recreated a liver tissue which is extensively used to study chronic liver diseases. Although nascent, research and advancements in 3D bioprinting has the potential to overcome the burden of organ donation as well.
There are limitless possibilities of what can be achieved with such disruptive innovations in the future. They can be used to develop accurate prediction models of diseases or to generate brand-new organs from scratch. They are also a great tool to effectively test the pharmaceuticals and could most certainly eliminate dependency on animal models for the same.