Organovo (NYSE: ONVO) and the implementation of 3D printers in BioTechnology

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Scientists, scientifically curious investors and Sci-Fi fanatics keep their eyes wide open on Organovo, waiting patiently for the next breakthrough of the company. Organovo (NYSE: ONVO)  developed the first commercial 3D bio-printing platform, and in April 2013 the company presented data describing key features of a 3D human liver model, which is in development since then.

The idea is to use the technology to create artificial 3D printed liver cells that will form a liver tissue for biotechnology companies to use in their clinical trials, saving them time and millions of dollars. The challenge is to make the printed tissue react to chemicals and toxins similar to how a real liver would. This challenge, it seems, is now behind us.

At the 3D Cell Culture 2014 conference held in Germany on Thursday (June 26th), a representative of Roche, the Swiss based global pharmaceuticalsand diagnostics company, presented results gathered from a study conducted on Organovo’s 3D printed liver cells. Dr. Adrian Roth, head of mechanistic safety for Roche emphasized two major conclusions:

  • “Organovo’s 3D Liver system was able to distinguish a toxic drug known to cause drug induced liver injury (DILI) from a close chemical analogue that is known to be non-toxic.
  • The toxicity of the toxic compound was detected at physiologically relevant doses, an important observation not previously reported with the same compounds in other model liver systems.”

Once the product is fully developed, Organovo will be able to perform tests for pharmaceutical companies in need of research assistance. Clinical trials cost billions and in the end may fail without bringing any substantial results. Through Organovo’s engineered cell tissues, this tragic outcome may be avoided. The animal testing phase will no longer be necessary, and even if the trial fails, it will be less financially devastating.  Also, Organovo could provide biotech firms with NovoGen MMX Bioprinters for them to use, enhancing their research capabilities in their own lab.

Organovo plans to launch the 3D Human Liver Tissue in the fourth quarter of 2014, and so far was impressively punctual regarding their progress timeline. It is important to mention, that while hopes are high for Organovo, the 3D Human Liver Tissue is the company’s first product, making it very possible that some delays or complications will occur. The reception of biotech companies to this new option of research is still uncertain, and it will be crucial to the success and progress of the company. Yet, Organovo isn’t standing still, and have already started working on preparing more cell types for bioprinting, for kidney and breast cancer tissues.

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