In case you weren’t sure if we are living in the future, Organovo is here to remind you: The bioprinting company announced today that its 3D printed liver tissue is now commercially available, and pharmaceutical laboratories can begin using it to test if their early-stage drugs are toxic.
The tissue is made from three types of cells found in the human liver. Liver cells need to be arranged in a very precise pattern or they don’t work. That means 3D tissue can give clearer results than the 2D collections of cells that labs currently use because the cells interact and mimic a full liver more convincingly. Organovo said it also makes the drug discovery process faster and, as a result, cheaper.
Organovo prints its liver tissue with a machine that isn’t that far removed from the inkjet printers that can be found on a desktop. Needle-like nozzles lay down the cells in a precise pattern. The tissue can survive for up to 42 days while researchers expose it to exploratory drugs.
Beyond liver tissue, Organovo is able to print everything from bone to blood vessels to heart tissue. It has longterm plans to 3D print entire organs, which could someday be implanted into a human.
In the meantime, Organovo is focused on printing bits of tissue. It announced a partnership with the National Institutes of Health in January, in which it will print eye tissue for the study of disease advancement.