Organovo is a startup based in San Diego, which is working with the 3D printing to create human skeletal muscle. The 3D printer has a cartridge with muscle cells which were prepared specially for this purpose. The printer will deposit these cells in the petri dish, in lines that are closely spaced together. Thanks to the closeness between the cells, they will interact and will grow, forming muscle tissue in time, which can’t be distinguished from the tissue which can be taken from a human.
This 3D printed muscle tissue could help new drug development, making it faster. A lot of drugs which do well when they’re tested on animals or cell cultures don’t do as well during clinical trials, thanks to the fact that human tissue is different from that of an animal. The 3D printed muscle is a superior choice for such trials, so drug companies will not spend millions of dollars on clinical trials. They will know beforehand if the drug is effective on humans, so a lot of time and money are saved.
Organovo has so far 3D printed different kinds of tissue, including blood vessels, lung and cardiac muscle.The 3D printing technology used by Organovo makes cell interact just like they do when they’re inside a body. The cells are packed tightly and they are incubated, so they will start to adhere to each other, trading chemical signals in the process. The cells will be kept in a paste, where they will align properly, migrating and growing as necessary.
Another possible use for this technology is the 3D printing of organs which could be transplanted. It’s not the case now, since the start-up has only printed small tissue samples, but it might be in the future. This kind of 3D printed organ would be superior to other choices because the cells of the patient would be used, minimizing the chance of rejection.