Samuel Blodgett founded Manchester, NH, envisioning it as an industrial hub much like the city of Manchester in the UK.
Now, on the cusp of Industry 4.0, this manufacturing hub is getting a reboot. But this particular type of manufacturing might not be exactly what Blodgett had in mind.
Could Manchester, NH become a human organ production hotspot?
A History of Industrialization
In order for industry to flow into Samuel Blodgett’s town, boats had to make it up the Merrimack River. Due to the Amoskeag Falls over which the river descends 54 feet of elevation in a half mile, the journey was essentially impossible.
Blodgett thus developed a canal and lock system for vessels to get around the falls. This was the first step toward his vision of a great industrial center.
He wanted Derryfield to become “the Manchester of America” as Manchester, the United Kingdom was the first industrialized city in the world.
In 1810, Derryfield became Manchester, NH. It also adopted the water-powered cotton spinning mill. This invention from Benjamin Prichard spurred the town’s growth. Eventually, it became known as a mill town.
Today, Dean Kamen sees another Manchester-based industrial revolution.
Started With Robots; Now We’re Here
DEKA Research & Development Corp. focuses on technology to improve everyday life. They offer the LUKE™ Arm prosthesis with multiple advanced movements. They offer the iBOT, a mobility system, and other high-tech inventions.
But the latest pathway to Industry 4.0 for Kamen is not through robotics or prosthetics.
It involves biomedical engineering, BioFabUSA, and human organs.
ARMI Envisions Lab-Grown Organs and Tissue
The United Network for Organ Sharing shows that 20 people die every day waiting for organ transplants. It is this cause that can transform Manchester once more.
Kamen already has experience with biomedical engineering, having conceived an automatic drug infusion pump wearable device. It was an opportunity with the U.S. Department of Defense that got the ball rolling. ARMI beat out more than 50 competitors.
An $80-million USD BioFabUSA grant allowed Kamen and cohorts to develop the Advanced Regenerative Manufacturing Institute. Its sole aim is to enable large-scale tissue manufacturing of tissue-related tech.
More than 100 engineers, programmers, and researchers work to make organ replication a reality. VC firms offer funding support while an experienced FDA official offers regulation consultations.
As reported on the Army website, ARMI wants to expand and diversify in five to seven years. John Getz, the deputy program manager of BioFabUSA, elaborated on the project:
“Using this plan and this facility, people can now come together with their ideas, walk across the hall and utilize technologies that may be unaffordable or unattainable at their home institutions, develop the product, and then go back to their own institutions and continue their research.”
No Organ Repossession Though, Please
With the increased availability of organs, the world could change dramatically.
If a child is born with a bad heart, they could get a new one right away. Due to using healthy skin cells, we could potentially eliminate dermatitis. Perhaps, down the line, we could even fuse prosthetics and biomedical engineering.
Given that we are decently close to 3D printing human bodies, we are nearing a science fiction future. Let’s just hope that we aren’t heading for a Repo: The Genetic Opera future when it comes to organs.