Advances in the 3D printing of human tissue have moved fast enough that San Diego-based bio-printing company Organovo now expects to unveil the world’s first printed organ — a human liver — next year.
Like other forms of 3D printing, bio-printing lays down layer after layer of material — in this case, live cells — to form a solid physical entity — in this case, human tissue. The major stumbling block in creating tissue continues to be manufacturing the vascular system needed to provide it with life-sustaining oxygen and nutrients.
Living cells may literally die before the tissue gets off the printer table.
Organovo, however, said it has overcome that vascular issue to a degree. “We have achieved thicknesses of greater than 500 microns, and have maintained liver tissue in a fully functional state with native phenotypic behavior for at least 40 days,” said Mike Renard, Organovo’s executive vice president of commercial operations.
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