3-D Bioprinting with Autologous Cells Could Prevent Organ Transplant Rejections, Says Organovo Exec. VP

May 10, 2013 – 2:10 am

Recently, 3-D printing has been used to produce guns, skulls, cars and ears, but the most significant impact of 3-D printing may come when the technology is used to print functional human organs.

3-D printing plays a central role in Organovo’s tissue engineering technology, said Mike Renard, Executive Vice President of Commercial Operations of Organovo, in an interview with medtechinsider.

Organovo is a biotechnology company focused on designing and creating functional 3-D human living tissue. The company recently presented in vitro human liver tissue for medical research and therapeutic applications at the 2013 Experimental Biology conference in Boston. 3-D printing enables Organovo to print tissue with cellular characteristics that closely mimic native tissue, says Renard.

“3-D bioprinting is a critical and important step in our process for creating living human tissues,” says Renard. “The printing process allows us to use a high-precision instrument to deposit the cellular bioinks in a specific spacial geometry defined by the tissue engineer… There may be other ways to accomplish the tissue-engineering outcomes we are achieving, but our technology is uniquely suited to leverage the common characteristics of tissue; they are multicellular, they present and are organised in repeating patterns, and their function is derived from self-assembly and cellular junctions that allow for the necessary cell signaling across the construct.”

Bioengineered organs have several advantages over donated organs. They could eliminate waiting times for an available organ. Using a patient’s own cells also could eliminate the risk that the body’s immune system rejects the implant and the need for patients to take immunosuppressant drugs after the procedure to prevent this, says Renard.

“Because our technology can utilise a wide variety of cellular inputs, we can build tissues with the safest sources of allogeneic cells, and potentially with the patient’s own cells (autologous), significantly reducing risk of introducing disease,” says Renard.

The road to marketplace approval for devices using living cells is paved with regulatory hurdles, however. There are currently no products on the market that use living cells besides skin products. Organovo expects to release the first 3-D printed tissue products as early as 2014, but this tissue will be used for medical and drug research. It will take longer before tissue-engineered products for therapeutic use are on the market, says Renard.

“It is difficult to predict when therapeutic products using our technology will be available to the clinic,” says Renard. “Significant science and discovery is required to develop a tissue therapy, ensure safety and efficacy through controlled clinical trials, and gain regulatory clearance as a medical device. Most likely supplemental tissue therapies that could come in forms of tubes, patches or organoids (a developmental possibility today) will be first to gain clearance and become part of the standard of care.”

By: Camilla Andersson

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