Using a 3D printer to build physical objects like airplane parts or robots has been seen. A startup company named Organovo based in San Diego, California, United States, want to eventually print replacement organ using the 3D printing technology. The 3D bio-printer created with the company Invetech from Australia has been recognized by Time Magazine as one of the 50 Best Inventions for 2010.
The 3D bio-printer includes two print heads, one for placing human cells, and the other for placing a hydrogel, scaffold, or support matrix. The cell’s cartridge need to be filled with the cellls of the organ or tissue to regenerate : arteria cells for artery per example. A computer controlled, laser-based calibration system was developed to repeatedly position the capillary tip, attached to the print head, to within microns.
Organovo fabricates presently thin layer of human skeletal muscle. They insert a cartridge of specially prepared muscle cells into the 3-D bio-printer, which then deposits them in uniform, closely spaced lines in a petri dish. This arrangement allows the cells to grow and interact until they form working muscle tissue that is nearly indistinguishable from something removed from a human subject.
Organovo’s product is so similar to human tissue, it could help researchers identify drugs that will fail long before they reach clinical trials – saving drug developers billions of dollars.
So far, Organovo has built tissue of several types, including cardiac muscle, lung, and blood vessels. The ultimate promise is to provide a much-needed alternative to organ transplants, which suffer from a lack of donors.