March 2, 2012 | Source: Technology Review
Organovo says its 3-D printer creates human tissues that could help fill a critical need: to speed drug discovery.
Many potential drugs that seem promising when tested in cell cultures or animals fail in clinical trials because cultures and animals are very different from human tissue.
To solve that, the Bioprinter deposits specially prepared muscle in uniform, closely spaced to lines in a petri dish. This arrangement allows the cells to grow and interact until they form working muscle tissue that is nearly indistinguishable from human tissue.
That means it could help researchers identify drugs that will fail long before they reach clinical trials, potentially saving drug companies billions of dollars. So far, Organovo has built tissue of several types, including cardiac muscle, lung, and blood vessels.
Its ultimate goal: complete organs for transplants. Because the organs would be printed from a patient’s own cells, there would be less danger of rejection.