Dr. Gabor Forgacs made that prediction. Now, he is making it a reality. Gabor is a University of Missouri researcher doing groundbreaking work in regenerative medicine. He is also the Scientific Founder and Chief Scientific Officer of Organovo, the latest company to receive support from you, the donors of the Methuselah Foundation.
As we work to identify breakthrough technology that will help us reach our shared goal of extending healthy human life, Organovo stands out. Thanks to your contributions we are able to assist them as they apply their proprietary technology to “print” new organs.
Organovo: Printing Organs
The “ink” in the bioprinting process employed by Organovo is composed of spheres packed with tens of thousands of human cells. These spheres are assembled or “printed” on sheets of organic biopaper. By precisely placing the cells with the bioprinter, and providing them with the proper natural developmental cues, they do exactly what they do in nature: they self assemble into fully formed, functional tissue.
The unique science blends biophysics and cell biology with computer aided design and high precision deposition to recreate the micro-architecture of the most complex human tissue. Organovo is currently developing blood vessels and intends to use the same technology to create organs or bio-constructs that reproduce organ function.
Dr. Forgacs envisions fully implantable organs printed from a patient’s own cells. “You give us your cells: we grow them, we print them, the structure forms and we are ready to go,” he says. “I am pretty sure that full organs will be on the market [one day].” These organs may not look like our organs but they will function just like the real thing.
The Possibilities for Transplants
Organ printing allows new tissue to replace diseased tissue. Since new tissue can be developed from cell sources from your own body, rejection of transplanted tissue is not an issue. The cells can be taken from youthful progenitor cells in your bone marrow to replace the older diseased cells. The cells ability to self-assemble means they will organize themselves into a functional tissue after being positioned.
This is where Organovo stands out: the challenges in using stem cells for medical therapies have shown that the results of injecting cells in solution are limited – cells alone can only do so much. But a functional piece of tissue from the patient’s own progenitor cells, which can be matured outside the organism, ex vivo, under conditions similar to those it will see in vivo, can add tremendously to the therapeutic power of the cells themselves.
Tissue on Demand
The company anticipates becoming the leader in surgical tools made from human cells; providing raw material in the form of tissue for surgeons use. According to Organovo CEO Keith Murphy, “We expect our tissue printing technology to become the underlying foundation for 3D tissue research in the future. By enabling researchers all over the world to compose their functional tissue of interest and conduct research upon it, we can speed medical research across the spectrum and bring new tissue types to patients sooner.”
Thanks to your continued support we are able to assist Organovo as they develop practical solutions to the problems of aging. This is a practical example of how we might see significant progress in extending our healthy lifespan.