Organovo has already made breakthroughs in 3D bioprinting, releasing the first commercial array of liver cells for pharmaceutical testing just last month. With each advancement, we write something like “a small step towards 3D printed organs”, as a sort of method for quenching the thirst of our readers. Today, however, the company has made an announcement that really does symbolize the first small step towards bioprinted organs. Thanks to a gift from the Methuselah Foundation, Organovo is partnering with the Department of Surgery at Yale School of Medicine to develop bioprinted tissues for surgical transplantation research.
In order to spur bioprinted organ research, the Methuselah Foundation has developed the University 3D Bioprinter Program, donating $500,000 to be divvied up among several institutions to push Organovo’s technology further. As Yale’s School of Engineering & Applied Science and Yale’s Department of Surgery are already at work combining tissue engineering with medical therapy, the donation will see them work with Organovo to begin work on 3D printed tissue for transplant.
CEO of Organovo, Keith Murphy, said of the partnership, “Developing organs for surgical implantation will take meaningful efforts and focused partnerships. This collaboration with Yale, which combines their expertise and technology with our own, is one important step in progressing towards implantable, therapeutic tissues. We are grateful to the Methuselah Foundation for their generous gift that gives those working towards significant breakthroughs in organ bioprinting an opportunity to use the NovoGen bioprinter and enable greater access to Organovo’s powerful platform.”
On top of the funding given to Organovo and Yale, the Methuselah Foundation has launched the New Liver Prize, which will award $1,000,000 to the first of six teams that “creates a regenerative or bioengineered solution that keeps a large animal alive for 90 days without native liver function” by the end of 2018. Once this prize has been completed, the foundation will move onto to prizes for other organs.
All of this work has only just begun, but, given the Organovo’s track record and the partners involved, I believe that it will be fruitful. This also signifies Yale’s growing presence in medical 3D printing, after having just partnered with medical printing firm Oxford Performance Materials to pursue ten medical 3D printing projects. More importantly, if the two organizations can develop transplantable organs, the huge waiting list for organ transplants could be significantly reduced, saving lives and improving livelihoods.