Probably one of the more exciting companies within the 3D printing space is that of Organovo. The company, based in San Diego California, has an ultimate goal of 3D printing actual human organs for transplantation. Although they are likely a decade, or maybe further, from actually implanting the first 3D printed organ, the company is making some very good progress in the process; progress that can be monetized, which allows them to continue to fund their work.
Last week Organovo reported their quarterly earnings, which were nothing to get too excited about, however, during that report an interesting tidbit of information was revealed, one which showed investors that progress is in fact being made.
The company revealed that they have been collaborating with a major pharmaceutical company, and have showed, via testing, that their 3D printed liver tissue can be used to determine if drugs are toxic to the human liver. The test was performed on a drug which had previously been deemed safe, after animal testing through pre-clinical studies. The drug was also deemed safe after in vitro testing, however, once it faced clinical testing, it did in fact cause liver damage. The toxicity was noticed only after testing the drug on several patients and spending a significant amount of money. Organovo’s 3D printed liver tissue detected the toxicity right away, and would have saved this particular drug company a significant amount of money if it had been used instead of traditional methods of testing.
“Organovo met a key challenge in this recent quarter,” Chairman and CEO Keith Murphy said. “While we knew our liver tissue showed metabolic activity and basic toxicology results comparable to native tissue, we had to ask the question: could it be predictive of drug problems where other methods have failed? These results demonstrate clearly for the first time that our tissue has been able to detect drug-induced liver injury that other methods in the past failed to predict. With this data in hand, we are continuing to push progress in the commercialization of our 3D Liver Tissue. We remain on track for commercial release of our 3D Human Liver Tissue later this calendar year.”
Although this is a small step towards their ultimate goal of printing out entire organs, this revelation will likely go a long way at insuring investors that the company is on the right track. Although the pharmaceutical company that they are working with was not publicly revealed, there is a very good chance that it is the same company which they announced that they were teaming with last month to evaluate their liver tissue, Johnson & Johnson.
Let’s hear your thoughts on this news within the Organovo liver tissue forum thread on 3DPB.com.
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