Organovo machine could "print" new organs

The regenerative medicine company Organovo has made a prototype machine that can "print" new arteries by assembling living tissue. And they say that the same approach will one day allow doctors to print new organs for patients in need of a transplant.

Organovo creates a "bioink" of discrete cellular aggregates, each made up of many cells. These are used as a building block, as the bioprinter places these cell aggregates with high precision into a predetermined pattern. The cell aggregates all fuse together over time (within about 24 hours), creating a brand new piece of tissue. The tissue is held together by the same forces that the tissues in one's body use: cells attach to other cells, and cells produce collagen and attach to collagen. Cells know exactly how to behave once placed in the right orientation by the printer.

"Ultimately the idea would be for surgeons to have tissue on demand for various uses," said Keith Murphy the company's chief executive. "The best way to do that is get a number of bio-printers into the hands of researchers and give them the ability to make three dimensional tissues on demand."

- here's the report from The Telegraph
- check out Organovo's release

Editor's note: Updated to correct the description of how Organovo's printing system functions.