Mini-3D Printed Livers Prove to be Survivors
Kyle Maxey posted on November 13, 2013 |

3d printing, organ, liver, drugs, design, medicineSan Diego’s Organovo has created functional, 3D printed human liver segments that have survived up to 40 days in a lab.

Measuring only a half millimeter deep and four millimeters wide, Organovo’s engineered livers are composed of 20 layers of essential liver tissue. Each layer is built from hepatocytes cells (the active components of the liver), endothelial cells (the liver’s scaffolding), and cells taken from the lining of a blood vessel that deliver oxygen to the living print.

Over the course of the printed organ’s 40 day life, Organovo researchers exposed the tissue to acetaminophen, both a pain killer and a liver toxin. To the researchers delight, their experiments proved that the printed livers could filter toxins all on their own.

With that milestone achieved, Orgonovo has plans to launch a 3D printed human liver product sometime in 2014. While Organovo is quick to point out that fully mature 3D printed livers are still a long way off, this new development could prove useful for companies engineering drugs too. According to Kevin Murphy, Organovo’s CEO, “[T]he 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."

Although the march toward complete, implantable 3D printed organs has a long road ahead, Organovo’s incremental breakthroughs could be a blessing for those in need. Additionally, the use of 3D printed organs to speed up drug development could help make this technology more palatable to the general public, who may already be weary of the idea of 3D printed organ replacements.

Images and Video Courtesy of Organovo

Recommended For You