3D bio-printing for medical and enhancement purposes

In-Depth Analysis 20-07-2018

3D bio-printing is defined here as the use of 3D printing technology for applications related to the body, whether the products themselves include biological material or not, and whether or not their purpose is medical. It includes any application for rehabilitating, supporting or augmenting any kind of biological functionality. The impacts of 3D bio-printing are uncertain, and it is not clear which actions may be required to foster responsible development of the technology. A STOA study, 'Additive bio-manufacturing: 3D printing for medical recovery and human enhancement, responded to these uncertainties by describing the state of the art and future development prospects of 3D bio-printing technology, analysing their wide-ranging impacts – including social, ethical and economic aspects – and identifying key policy challenges along with options to respond to them. Key challenges and responsive options were identified in the approach to regulation, in managing the distribution of costs and benefits, and in the role of citizens in technology development. This In-depth Analysis draws upon the findings of the STOA Study, summarising and reflecting upon its key findings. The conclusions highlight key trends and offer further reflections on the study in the context of responsible research and innovation.