Alright. We do a lot of gushing about Organovo. But you know what? With it walking the precipice of cutting-edge, revolutionary technology called bio-printing and its quite impressive strides thus far, we think gushing of geyser-like proportions is warranted… necessary, even. Consider this: Since the founding of Organovo just four years ago, the company has raised over $2 million from private investors and has already developed the bioprinting technology that lays down patterned, cultured cells in a supporting structure of a jello-like hydrogel in a 3-D structure. Which is… you know… phenomenal. And just three years after its founding, Organovo’s NovoGen MMX Bioprinter was named one of Time Magazine’s Best Inventions of 2010. If you don’t think that’s impressive, then you can just stop reading here.
Their dynamic momentum, with considerable help from the Methuselah Foundation since their beginning has led to the reality of bio-engineered blood vessels and the ambitious plans for kidneys, livers, and other vital organs that are now under way. Armed with a new and, more importantly, stable source of revenue, Organovo is going through expansion of laboratory space to accommodate the size of its ambition! How brilliant is that?! But where’s the moolah coming from?
“Our dance card was full at BIO for partnering meetings, and we’ve got a spectrum of big and small, U.S., Japanese, British, and Swiss pharma companies at the table,” CEO Keith Murphy writes.
“The response to what we’re doing has really been tremendous. People can really use what we have in Oncology, Diabetes, Fibrosis, and other areas where a 3-D [tissue structure] is relevant.”
Murphy has identified a burgeoning market among pharmaceuticals by forming what he calls 3-D “constructs” of diseased or dysfunctional human cells to be used as models for new drug testing. These models react to drug compounds much as they would in the body because the cell matrix enables each cell to interact with adjoining cells (just as it does in the body!). So by producing living human tissue outside the body, the company is making it possible for pharmaceutical researchers to test an experimental compound’s toxicity in a manner that mimics the reaction within a living organism.
With that in view, two partnership agreements with pharmaceutical companies as well as one made with a regenerative company have been “signed, sealed, delivered” and several other companies are in the works for the same. By the end of this year, Murphy writes, more partnership deals expect to be signed.
“One of the things that’s been good about the past six months is that the promise of our technology is holding true,” Murphy says. “The constructs we’re creating robustly build [blood vessels] with collagen, so the blood vessel grows stronger over time. The next challenge is getting to greater and greater vascularization of the construct. The emerging story is going to be, ‘Who can make thicker tissues with more blood vessels inside?’ “
As Keith Murphy says, creating a made-to-order liver or pancreas in just a few weeks “could happen in 10 years.” The applications continue to advance rapidly. The industry is gaining in heat and momentum. Even in the world of investment, Louis Basenese’s recent recommendation allowed White Cap Report readers to pocket 140% gains in just seven months. Numbers don’t lie and progress is measured in numbers. The public deserves to know that technology like this not only exists outside of science fiction novels, but that we are actively pursuing the day when a complex organ such as a heart or a liver can be printed by a patient’s own cells. Everyone who cares for their own health (and that of their family and friends) deserves to have the opportunity to support this endeavor. (Hint: Think NewOrgan Prize.)
Bigelow, Bruce V. “Organovo’s Bio-Printing Technology Yields Unanticipated Revenue from Pharma Partners.” Xconomy | San Diego. Xconomy Inc., 13 July 2011. Web. 14 July 2011.
Fritz, Justin. “Need a New Liver? Just Hit “Print”.” Wall Street Daily. The White Cap Research Group, LLC, 21 June 2011. Web. 14 July 2011. http://www.wallstreetdaily.com/2011/06/21/bioprinting-the-building-blocks-to-print-human-organs/.