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Company, University to Develop 3D Models for Cancer Research

Organovo bioprinter

Organovo bioprinter (Organovo Holdings Inc.)

Organovo Holdings Inc. in San Diego, with Oregon Health and Science University in Portland, will develop three dimensional human tissue models to replicate cancer disease for lab testing of potential therapies. The partnership, for which financial terms were not disclosed, will apply Organovo’s 3D printing technology that builds tissue models for testing cancer treatments more accurately and reliably than current preclinical techniques.

Human tissue models address shortcomings in current methods for identifying and screening drug candidates, such as cancer cell lines and lab animals, that may not indicate a candidate’s toxicity or limited effectiveness with humans. “A major challenge in oncology research today is that animal models cannot accurately represent human physiology,” says OHSU cancer researcher Joe Gray, “and cell lines do not provide information on how cells act in a three-dimensional, native architecture.”

OHSU’s Knight Cancer Institute will provide oncology expertise for the partnership. The institute’s director, Brian Druker, conducted research showing it was possible to shut down cells that feed cancer growth, without harming healthy cells, which helps make once-fatal cancers manageable and can lead to more targeted cancer therapies. Druker’s research was instrumental in the development of the leukemia drug Gleevec.

Organovo offers a 3D bioprinter that takes human cells and shapes them into 3D tissue, with cellular viability and biological functions that the company says is superior to animal models. The printer (pictured at top) constructs building blocks in any shape for the desired cell type, then deposits cell aggregates from a print cartridge one layer at a time, creating a stacked succession of 2D patterns. An inert gel surrounding the stacked layers holds them in place.

Organovo licenses 3D bioprinting technology developed at University of Missouri by biophysicist Gabor Forgacs. In March 2012, University of Missouri received a patent for the bioprinting technology. Organovo says its license includes this patent and continuation patents derived from the same application.

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Hat tip: MedCity News

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