The human body is remarkably resilient, but sometimes injuries or illnesses are so severe that it can’t repair itself, at least not completely. Such is the case with volumetric muscle loss (VML). With certain injuries, usually severe enough to require surgical repair, the muscle damage is so extensive that the body’s natural ability to regenerate isn’t enough to restore normal form and function. VML can also be the result of certain diseases. Regardless of the cause, the condition often results in impaired functioning and/or cosmetic damage, and it’s difficult to treat; most treatments are largely ineffective.
Organovo thinks we should be able to do better, so the 3D bioprinting company is teaming up with the University of Virginia to develop bioprinted tissues to repair volumetric muscle loss. While Organovo is best known for its exVive 3D printed kidney and liver tissue, currently being used in pharmaceutical research, the company also develops 3D printed tissue for therapeutic purposes.
The collaborative VML research will take place in the lab of George J. Christ, PhD, University of Virginia Professor of Biomedical Engineering and Orthopaedic Surgery.
“Collaborations that bring together Organovo’s 3D bioprinting platform and top-notch research serve as a catalyst for the development of innovative treatments that meet critical unmet needs,” said Eric David, M.D., J.D., chief strategy officer and executive vice president of preclinical development, Organovo. “Combining the expertise in muscle regeneration of Dr. Christ’s lab and University of Virginia with Organovo’s expertise in constructing human tissues is an important step towards helping patients and families who have been calling for solutions in volumetric muscle loss.”
The Christ Lab, also known as the Laboratory of Regenerative Therapeutics, is one of nearly 100 organizations that make up the Advanced Regenerative Manufacturing Institute (ARMI), a Manufacturing USA institute dedicated to tissue engineering. The lab’s primary focus is on musculoskeletal tissue engineering and regeneration, and it has produced several studies on volumetric muscle loss. Through this collaboration, the lab will become the latest of many partners to utilize an Organovo 3D bioprinter in its research facility.
“Current treatment for volumetric muscle loss injury is limited to surgical transfers of the patient’s muscle from a healthy site to the injured site. However, these treatments are associated with poor engraftment of the transferred muscle and can cause death of tissue at the healthy site,” said Dr. Christ. “We believe with the use of Organovo’s 3D bioprinting technology we could quickly develop a more complex and physiologically relevant bioengineered muscle prototype for preclinical testing. Accomplishing this goal would be a huge step in accelerating the therapeutic applications of bioprinted muscle tissues and providing a much needed treatment to those suffering from volumetric muscle loss.”
Volumetric muscle loss is frequently seen in wounded military veterans as well as civilians, and it’s a debilitating condition that affects many, many lives. The University of Virginia and Organovo are home to some of the brightest and most experienced scientists in the country, and they’ve dedicated their lives to resolving conditions such as these. Their collaboration, combined with the advanced 3D bioprinting technology that has made Organovo famous, is reason for people suffering from VML to feel very hopeful that relief may be just around the corner. Discuss in the VML forum at 3DPB.com.
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