New and old technologies for organ replacement

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Abstract

Purpose of review

The demand for organ transplantation has increased over time, increasingly exceeding the supply of organs. Whether and how new or old technologies separately or together could be applied to replacing organs will thus remain a question of importance.

Recent findings

Estimating how the demand for organ transplantation will evolve over the decades and the need to bring forward and test new technologies will help establish the dimensions of the problem and the priorities for investigation. Pluripotent stem cells can in principle expand to sufficient numbers, differentiate, and assemble complex and functional organs. However, the devising of effective and reliable means to coax the stem cells to do so remains beyond the current grasp.

Summary

Given the time during which novel therapies are devised and applied, which organ transplantation reaches to 2–3 decades, one can anticipate the need for organ replacement will grow dramatically, but advances in science and technology will overcome the hurdles in generating new organs. Whether these advances will address the needs and priorities of society, however, is unclear.

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