San Diego medical research company Organovo announced it has created slices of functioning, long-lasting human liver which can survive for 40 days - using a 3D printer.
The 3D printer builds up 20 layers of hepatocytes cells, which carry out liver functions, and along with endothelial cells found in nature which form the liver's architectural support. It also adds cells from the lining of a blood vessel to allow the liver cells to receive nutrients and oxygen.
This image is a cross-section of bioprinted human liver tissue demonstrating compartmentalization between the hepatocytes (shown as blue nuclei), endothelial cells (red), and hepatic stellate cells (green).
These particular mini-livers are half a millimetre deep and four millimetres wide and were able to survive for 40 days fully functioning. Additional data shows that Organovo's 3D liver tissues exhibit dose-dependent responses to acetaminophen, a known liver toxicant, and that the toxic effects can be assessed using both standard screening assays and histopathological assessment of the treated tissue. The data demonstrate that Organovo's 3D Liver tissue can potentially have value in assessing toxicology problems in human liver over a long period, including sub-acute and multiple dose effects.
The liver naturally regenerates itself, so it is a perfect match for bio 3D printing. Once the cells are in place they can simple regrow themselves. In April Organovo were able to show that liver function was retained in their 3D Liver for over five days.
Such success does not mean soon a 3D-printed organ will be transplanted into a human patient. Organs as the liver, kidney and heart require networks of blood vessels and other tiny structure to be alive, but currently 3D printing is not capable of integrating blood vessels. But for now this tiny liver could already help patient who don't require a full organ transplant.
Organovo plans to launch a 3D Human Liver product in 2014. The company believes that a multi-cellular bioprinted 3D Liver system could not only lead to faster drug development, but also offer significant value to pharmaceutical researchers by enabling assessment of both biochemical and tissue responses.
"The stable, liver-specific functionality of 3D Liver is consistent with our observations that other NovoGen bioprinted tissues become fully cellular, steady state, living tissues that persist over time. Furthermore, the fact that these tissues demonstrate similar activity to native liver when presented with a known challenge drug is an encouraging indication of utility in drug development." said Keith Murphy, Organovo's chief executive officer.
via Live Science
Posted in 3D Printing Applications
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