Organovo Holdings is the leader in the new and revolutionary science of bioprinting, the application of computer printing technology to the layered construction of 3-dimensional biological tissues for use initially in drug discovery and preclinical safety testing, but for possible eventual use in the generation of personalized body parts and implants on demand. Organovo introduced the first commercial 3-D bioprinters in 2010, based primarily upon the research of Dr. Forgacs, currently the Executive and Scientific Director of the Shipley Center for Innovation at Clarkson University and the George H. Vineyard Professor of Biological Physics at the University of Missouri.
Using a programmable printer with laser-guided nozzles, the Organovo NovoGen bioprinter system shoots microscopic droplets of different cell mixtures, along with a special gel. The cells themselves usually come from cultures of stem cells grown from a donor's bone marrow or fat stem cells. Layer upon layer of the cell-gel mixture is sprayed to form the desired 3-D shape, with the gel simply there to help maintain the shape until the cells bond and are able to support themselves, at which time the gel is removed. In living organs, cells are fed through a complex network of capillaries, which scientists are as yet unable to duplicate, so constructed tissues are now kept alive by being bathed in nutrients.
Bioprinting is still very new, and the structures being fabricated are primarily simple thin cell tissues. Nevertheless, they offer the immediate potential of providing more realistic options for drug research and safety testing. Cells in a 3-D form more accurately reflect their natural setting, and thus offer the possibility of more accurate testing results. However, as the technology continues to develop, more massive and complex shapes could allow the repair of skin or muscle tissue, and then perhaps fabricated heart valves, bone implants, kidney cells, and eventually entire organs, reducing the now critical need for organ donors. Doctors, for example, could use a CT scan as a basis for quickly generating a new custom body component of exactly the right size and shape.
Organovo is the first company with a 3-D tissue fabrication technology that works across multiple tissue types, allowing for the placement of cells in any pattern. Organovo's NovoGen bioprinters are currently shared with commercial and academic researchers, but the company is focused on the multi-billion market for drug testing. Organovo recently received a grant from the National Institutes of Health for research in the production of liver tissues that can be used in drug toxicity testing.
For additional information, visit the company's website at www.Organovo.com
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