We've written about Dr. Gabor Forgacs of the University of Missouri before because his work in developing techniques for 3D printing human organs is making great progress. His company, Organovo, has developed a bioprinter, which could be the only such device available for purchase today. Recently he was interviewed by PopTech.
You can read the whole interview at the link below, but here are the highlights we observed:
- The bioprinter is designed to meet a very desperate need: transplant patients who are unable to obtain suitable natural organs. The big idea: print the organs or at least replacement tissue using the patients own cells.
- Bio-compatible gels are used as scaffolding to hold the bioprinted cells in place while they "take".
- Organovo is now focusing on two specific products: blood vessels and nerve grafts, both of which will address serious medical problems for a great many patients. The nerve graft is interesting because nerves can naturally regenerate if the "gap" is less than 3cm. If the gap is more than that, bioprint material to fill it and nerves will regenerate along that path.
- Printed organ material can be used as a safe test bed for pharmaceutical companies to test new drugs.
- Forgacs doesn't expect to ever actually replicate full human-like organs. Instead, he predicts printing structures that will appear different, but have similar function.
Will it work? We're not entirely sure, but we do know that Organovo is hiring and that must mean something.