Thursday, October 11, 2012

3D Bioprinting: Organovo (onvo) Creating Customized Human Tissue

Organovo (onvo), which is traded over the counter, is among the leaders in bioprinting, an offset of 3D printing, where it can generate human tissue, will the ultimate goal of designing human organs for use.

For those unaware of 3D printing itself, that's where a digital model is used using a printer to build 3-dimensional solid objects. It is poised to change the manufacturing industry forever.

The difference between 3D printing and bioprinting is bioprinters use what is identified as "bio-ink" to form human tissue. The bio-ink is made from mixtures of living cells.

Those involved with or following the bioprinting industry say the ability to create organs for the replacement of existing human organs is at minimum a decade away.

While that's the sexy part of the business, from a more near term profitable outlook, it's the building of tissue for the use in research by pharmaceutical companies that the money is at now, and which could be a source of steady income over the long term. Another use is for regenerative therapies.

Similar to 3D printing, the bio-ink used in bioprinting builds tissue in layers.

Concerning regenerative therapies, some companies have used it in wounds, where the cells built from the bioprinting are applied directly to the wound. The results at this time show the wound will heal quicker in response.

Other experimental results from bioprinting are the printing of heart valves, bone implants and knee cartilage at Cornell University.

As for Organovo, it's working hard to provide solutions for drug companies looking to significantly lower time and costs in relationship to testing drugs. The Presidents Council on Science and Technology reported that clinical trials in the biopharmaceutical industry now cost $31.3 billion.

Expectations are the use of 3D printed tissue will allow for companies to find out much earlier in the development process on whether or not a specific drug will work. That means those that are successful would likely come to market much quicker than before.

At this time Organovo works with Pfizer (PFE) and United Therapeutics (UTHR), whereby they share some rights with the companies, along with receiving funding for projects, according to Mike Renard, vice president of commercial operations for Organovo.

Renard added that some of the tissue already printed by the company includes recreated tumors, blood vessels, and lung tissue. Tissue created for customers is proprietary.

If Organovo can move quickly and efficiently into this market and take a fast lead, it could be a major player, which would of course generate fantastic returns for its investors.

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