If you’re only marginally familiar with bioprinting and have heard of just one company in the industry, it’s likely that company is Organovo. The San Diego company was one of the first, if not the first, to show the world that bioprinting is actually a viable technology when they introduced their 3D printed exVive3D Human Liver Tissue, and subsequent 3D printed kidney tissue. So far, the printed tissue has shown itself to be valuable in pharmaceutical testing and research, and recently Organovo announced their intention to develop a functional, transplantable 3D printed human liver.
That hasn’t happened yet – the first transplantable 3D printed human organ isn’t going to be created overnight – but Organovo still has plenty of news regarding the progress they’re making with their 3D printed tissue. Recently, the company published a paper detailing their latest research into the effectiveness of 3D printed kidney tissue for in vitro kidney toxicity testing.
“Traditional preclinical models often fall short in their ability to inform clinical outcomes accurately, largely due to the limited functionality of simple in vitro models and species differences,” said Dr. Sharon Presnell, Chief Scientific Officer, Organovo. “Our newly published data demonstrate that Organovo’s 3D bioprinted human kidney tissue has great potential to assess the toxic effects of compounds and the development and progression of complex, multicellular processes such as fibrosis.”
Detailed in the paper, among other findings, is a proof-of-concept study that demonstrated kidney toxicity following treatment with the chemotherapy drug cisplatin, a nephrotoxin that causes loss of tissue viability and epithelial cell function. The side effects and risks of chemotherapy drugs are known, but Organovo was able to block the toxicity effect by administering cimetidine, an antacid used to treat ulcers. You can read the full article, entitled “3D Proximal Tubule Tissues Recapitulate Key Aspects of Renal Physiology to Enable Nephrotoxicity Testing,” here.
Organovo’s focus hasn’t just been on kidney tissue, though. Another study was recently published entitled “The Promise of New Technologies to Reduce, Refine or Replace Animal Use while Reducing Risks of Drug Induced Liver Injury in Pharmaceutical Development.” Written by experts from the Food & Drug Administration, Merck & Co., and LifeNet Health, the study explores how human tissue models, including Organovo’s 3D printed liver tissue, can accelerate drug development without the drawbacks of animal and in vitro cultures. You can read the study here.
The paper describes Organovo’s bioprinted liver tissue as “a significant innovation in the study of drug-induced liver injury,” and noted that the response of the printed tissue to fibrotic agents very closely mimicked liver samples from patients suffering from drug-induced fibrosis.
“Both liver and kidney drug toxicities are significant challenges for pharmaceutical companies working to advance safe and effective therapeutics,” said Keith Murphy, CEO, Organovo. “Previous validation data of our 3D bioprinted human liver tissue, combined with the data published in the peer-reviewed journal, Frontiers of Physiology, on our 3D bioprinted kidney proximal tubule tissue, clearly show that Organovo’s technology can address the unmet needs of our pharma customers and partners by providing timely, cost-effective, and more accurate human tissue models for evaluating drug toxicity and drug-induced fibrotic disease.”
Much excitement surrounds the idea of 3D printed transplantable organs – so much so that many people forget how much good companies like Organovo are doing with the bioprinted tissue they have developed already. Many lifesaving drugs come with their own risks, sadly, but the improved testing that can be carried out using printed tissue may lead to mitigation of those risks – and as a bonus, no animals will be harmed. There’s more than one way that bioprinting can save lives. Discuss in the Organovo forum at 3DPB.com.