Organovo’s Bioprinting Future Certainly Looks Bright — CEO Keith Murphy Provides Interesting Insight
Even before meeting Keith Murphy for the first time at an Inside 3D Printing Event last year I had been a big fan of the San Diego-based company. And although his vision for Organovo‘s future may seem straight out of a science fiction novel, the pace at which his company is pushing forward towards those goals is quite impressive.
Although shares of Organovo have plummeted from their highs in late 2013, the company is now generating revenue, and has set forth a rather clear path towards increasing those revenues for years to come. With approximately $90 million on their balance sheet, virtually no debt, and a roadmap for numerous new bioprinted products, Murphy sat down with Jim Probasco of Benzinga to discuss where he sees Organovo headed over the coming years, leading up to their ultimate goal of 3D printing entire human organs. Murphy also discussed the various areas that the company is, and will be moving into, which we have outlined below:
exVive 3D Human Liver Tissue
This is the company’s first 3D bioprinted product, which launched in November of last year. The tissue is used for drug toxicity testing and sales should continue to pick up over the next several quarters. Last quarter the company announced that they had $2 million in booked contracts for the tissue, and reported $300,000 in revenue for the first quarter.
“The fact that these (contracts) take a couple of quarters to be recognized as revenue shouldn’t surprise anyone,” Murphy told Benzinga.
Further revenues relate to these contracts should be reported in the coming quarter according to Murphy.
exVive 3D Human Kidney Tissue
Next year, as Organovo’s revenue stream for their Liver tissue begins to pick up, a new product will also be available commercially, and that’s their exVive 3D Human Kidney Tissue. This should more than double the company’s revenue potential as Murphy believes there will be even more demand for the kidney tissue than that of the liver tissue. By early 2017, a steady stream of revenue should be pouring into Organovo thanks to both of these products.
Partnership with Merck
Back in April, Organovo announced a multi-year 3D printed human tissue research partnership with pharmaceutical giant Merck, which gave Merck access to their exVive Liver tissue and provided Organovo with a valuable partner to collaborate on the development of multiple custom tissue models.
“The Merck deal is one with multiple aspects to what we’re doing with them,” explained Murphy. “One is they’ve become a customer for the liver tox business. They are actively engaged in contracts with us on using our xVive3D human liver tissue for detecting toxicity of their compounds. The reason we mentioned that as part of our Merck contract was the fact that it’s part of a larger contract. The balance is focused on the development of specific tissues for use in drug discovery.”
Partnership with L’Oréal
In the middle of 2013 Organovo began a partnership contract with L’Oréal. This contract is already on its second stage, with the companies working to turn their 3D printed skin prototype into actual 3D printed human skin tissue that’s ready for commercial use. This partnership could lead to a number of products targeted to the cosmetics industry as well as other industries relying on human skin samples. Murphy described these opportunities in the passage below:
“The contract anticipates that there will be royalty and milestone for Organovo for things that are discovered and moved forward commercially from those. L’Oréal is in the beauty industry, so they’re looking at finding cosmetic agents that are active and determining the activity of those. The contract anticipates activity back to Organovo for this. In addition, we can do multiple other things in terms of revenue streams. As L’Oréal does the screening, the contract anticipates (Organovo) to be the commercial supplier of the model. Further, we can choose together to sell that more broadly, meaning work with other folks in the industry and offer them the tissues if we choose to do that. Finally, once you build a 3D skin like this, we’re talking about the use with cosmetics companies. Organovo has the right to go out and use it in the pharmaceutical industry as well.”
Early Stage Research Project With Yale
This is where things can get pretty interesting. As you know, Organovo has an ultimate goal of 3D printing entire human organs for transplantation. In order to get to that point they will have to figure out a way in which complex vascular networks can be built into those organs. This is where Yale’s experience and guidance in the field can really come into play, and thanks to the Methuselah Foundation, which has provided important funding for this collaboration, Organovo’s ultimate goal should one day become a reality.
“With federal research grant dollars, they (Yale) can do big projects with the Organovo bio-printing platform and have opportunities to solve some of these key issues,” Murphy stated. “Then we can work together to leverage them into commercial tissues that would be helpful in the clinic.”
Undoubtedly the company has a lot on their plate, but with a relatively clear path to future revenue streams along with quite an impressive balance sheet, they are without a doubt the leaders within the field of bioprinting today. Let’s hear your thoughts on Organovo’s future ambitions in the Organovo forum thread on 3DPB.com.
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