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The Good News
2013 May
Pg 4 - The Sunshine Express
Using a printer to create tissues sounds like
science-fiction, but researchers are making
rapid progress in the field of bioprinting,
since Gabor Forgacs, Ph.D., at the University
of Missouri, Columbia, made the discovery in
1996 that during embryonic development, cells
clump together with liquidlike properties. In
2003 Thomas Boland, Ph.D., then at Clemson
University in South Carolina, modified an
inkjet printer to dispense cells into scaffolds.
Since then researchers have developed tech-
nologies allowing 3-D tissues to be engineered
without scaffolding. The first commercial 3-D
bioprinter was developed in 2009 by a bio-
printing company called Organovo Holdings,
Inc. (OTCQX ONVO) (¡°Organovo¡±).
Cells, collected from the patient or stem cells,
are cultured and then used to create a bio-ink,
which is loaded into a cartridge. The printing
process uses layers of an inert hydrogel sup-
port matrix and the bio-ink, which allows for
control of cell distribution. Droplets of bio-ink
measure 100-500 microns in diameter and con-
tain more than 10,000 cells each. Printer heads
are programmed and layering is repeated in a
specific geometry and the cells naturally fuse
together in a biocompatible form. The resulting
tissue has tremendous biological potential and
is superior to animal models because it is made
out of human cells.
A whole new world is unfolding before our very
eyes, driven by astounding advances in technol-
ogy that are about to reshape a whole lot of what
we do and how we think. One of the most rapidly
developing and amazing technologies that has
already arrived is the 3-D printer. 3D Printing
has the potential to completely change the world
because 3D printing is unlocking the world of
3D printing is revolutionizing the design, proto-
typing and manufacturing processes in a wide
range of industries, and enterprises should start
experimenting with 3D printing technology to
improve traditional product design and prototyp-
ing, with the potential to create new product lines
and markets.
Pete Basiliere, research director at Gartner, Inc.
(NYSE: IT) the world¡¯s leading information tech-
nology research and advisory company said re-
cently in a press release, ¡°3D printing is a technol-
ogy accelerating to mainstream adoption. It is a
technology of great interest to the general media,
with demonstrations on science shows, on gadget
websites and in other areas. From descriptions
of exciting current uses in medical, manufactur-
ing and other industries to futuristic ideas, such
as using 3D printers on asteroids and the moon
to create parts for spacecraft and lunar bases, the
hype leads many people to think the technology is
some years away when it is available now and is
affordable to most enterprises.¡±
3D printers are now priced so that any size busi-
ness can invest in them and start experimenting
with the myriad ways to monetize them. By 2016,
enterprise-class 3D printers will be available for
under $2,000. 3D printing will also become avail-
able to consumers via kiosks or print-shop-style
services, creating new opportunities for retailers
and other businesses. The material science behind
3D printing processes and materials will continue
to progress, and affordable 3D printers are lower-
ing the cost of entry into manufacturing in the
same way that e-commerce lowered the barriers to
the sale of goods and services.
¡°Businesses must continuously monitor advances
to identify where improvements can be lever-
aged,¡± said Mr. Basiliere. ¡°We see 3D printing as
a tool for empowerment, already enabling life-
changing parts and products to be built in strug-
gling countries, helping rebuild crisis-hit areas
and leading to the democratization of manufac-
3D printing is already established in industries
ranging from automotive manufacturing to con-
sumer goods to the military, as well as the medi-
cal and pharmaceutical industries. Businesses can
use 3D printing to design personalized products,
components, working prototypes and architec-
tural models to promote their brand and products
in new and interactive ways.
Indeed, there are opportunities to create entirely
new product lines in which the finished 3D-print-
ed product is what the consumer purchases. Like
human tissue.
The Future Is Now
Organovo is using the 3-D human tissue print-
ing technology to create tissue on demand, for
human disease research, drug discovery and
development, toxicology testing, and eventually
as therapeutics themselves. Explains Eric David,
M.D., chief strategy officer at Organovo, ¡°Animal
models are a whole organism, but they are not
human. Cells in petri dishes are two-dimensional
and don¡¯t behave like normal human cells. Bio-
printing is so valuable because it is an architectur-
ally correct, fully human model.¡±
On April 22, Organovo presented at the 2013
Experimental Biology conference in Boston, Mas-
sachusetts data on the company¡¯s in vitro three-
dimensional liver.
¡°We have achieved excellent function in a fully
cellular 3D human liver tissue. With Organovo¡¯s
3D bioprinted liver tissues, we have demonstrated
the power of bioprinting to create functional hu-
man tissue that replicates human biology better
than what has come before. Not only can these
tissues be a first step towards larger 3D liver,
laboratory tests with these samples have the po-
tential to be game changing for medical research.
We believe these models will prove superior in
their ability to provide predictive data for drug
discovery and development, better than animal
models or current cell models,¡± said Keith Mur-
phy, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer at
For the first time, human liver tissues have been
generated that are truly three-dimensional, being
up to 500 microns in thickness in the smallest
dimension, and consisting of multiple cell types
arranged in defined spatial patterns that repro-
tissues are not a monolayer of cells; our tissues
are approximately 20 cell layers thick. Second, the
multi-cellular tissues closely reproduce the distinct
cellular patterns found in native tissue. Finally,
our tissues are highly cellular, comprised of cells
and the proteins those cells produce, without
dependence on biomaterials or scaffold for three-
dimensionality. They actually look and feel like
living tissues.¡±
Key findings from Organovo¡¯s research include:
-NovoGen Bioprinting enabled reproducible
fabrication of architecturally and compositionally
defined 3D tissues into standard tissue culture for-
mats, using a wide array of cellular inputs, includ-
ing primary human hepatocytes and hepatocyte-
like cells derived from stem/progenitor sources.
-Bioprinted 3D liver tissues exhibited several key
features that remained stable over time.
-These novel 3D liver tissues possessed critical
liver functions, including albumin production, fi-
brinogen and transferrin production, and inducible
cytochrome P450 enzymatic activities, including
CYP 1A2 and CYP 3A4. Cholesterol biosynthesis
was also demonstrated for the first time in a multi-
cellular 3D human liver system in vitro, suggest-
ing utility in the study of interventional strategies
aimed at regulation of cholesterol secretion.
-Albumin production by 3D bioprinted liver tis-
sues was 5-9 times greater than matched 2D con-
trols, suggesting superior functionality.
In another example of the 3-D printing revolution,
global athletic leader New Balance announced a
significant advancement in the use of 3D print-
ing to customize high performance products for
athletes. Utilizing a proprietary process, the brand
is able to produce spike plates customized to the
individual needs and desires of their elite athletes.
At the New Balance Games in January 2013, Team
New Balance athlete, Jack Bolas, became the first
ever track athlete to compete in customized, 3D
printed plates.
¡°With 3D printing we are able to pursue perfor-
mance customization at a new level to help our
elite NB athletes and eventually all athletes. We
believe this is the future of performance footwear
and we are excited to bring this to consumers,¡±
says New Balance President and CEO Robert
DeMartini. ¡°As the only major athletic brand to
manufacture shoes in the U.S., we are proud to in-
vest in American workers. Developing our printing
capabilities could ultimately help us further invest
in the American worker by adding highly technical
positions to our already skilled labor force.¡±
(Story by KingDaddy; sources: www.organovo.
duce key elements of
native tissue architec-
ture. The tissues, fabri-
cated using Organovo¡¯s
proprietary NovoGen
bioprinting platform,
are highly reproducible
and exhibit superior
performance compared
to standard 2D controls.
Dr. Sharon Presnell,
Chief Technology Of-
ficer and Executive Vice
President of Research
and Development, stat-
ed, ¡°We¡¯ve combined
three key features that
set our 3D tissues apart
from 2D cell-culture
models. First, the