Printing human tissue for drug testing

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A start-up called Organovo uses a 3D printer to build a variety of human tissue types, from cardiac muscle to blood vessels. The company hopes to eventually print entire organs for transplant from feedstock of a patient's own cells, thereby reducing the likelihood of rejection. But in the meantime, the 3D printed tissue could be used for drug testing. From Technology Review (photo Frank Rogozienski/Wonderful Machine):

Because Organovo's product is so similar to human tissue, it could help researchers identify drugs that will fail long before they reach clinical trials, potentially saving drug companies billions of dollars…<

Unlike some experimental approaches that have used ink-jet printers to deposit cells, Organovo's technology enables cells to interact with each other much the way they do in the body. They are packed tightly together and incubated, prompting them to adhere to each other and trade chemical signals.

"Printing Muscle"

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  1. What does it say about our lives that I thought that drug testing meant ’employer drug testing’ or ‘stopped by a cop drug testing’?  I couldn’t figure out how it would work even if the officer could print out your liver by the side of the road.

    1. Ha ha, right. Before reading the post I thought it was for people to print a fake version of their skin so they could fake a drug test to not get caught. What does that say about me? XD

  2. An interesting alternative use for this might be to “print” three-dimensional tumours from cell lines.  It’s well-known that solid tumours respond very differently to cancer drugs like cisplatin than the same cell lines on a plate (I wrote about this in a review of literature for my master’s degree).

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