Missouri-based Organovo is "printing" tissues and organ-like structures:
The "ink" in the bioprinting process employed by Organovo is composed of spheres packed with tens of thousands of human cells. These spheres are assembled or "printed" on sheets of organic biopaper. By precisely placing the cells with the bioprinter, and providing them with the proper natural developmental cues, they do exactly what they do in nature: they self assemble into fully formed, functional tissue.
The unique science blends biophysics and cell biology with computer aided design and high precision deposition to recreate the micro-architecture of the most complex human tissue. Organovo is currently developing blood vessels and intends to use the same technology to create organs or bio-constructs that reproduce organ function.
Dr. Forgacs envisions fully implantable organs printed from a patient's own cells. "You give us your cells: we grow them, we print them, the structure forms and we are ready to go," he says. "I am pretty sure that full organs will be on the market [one day]." These organs may not look like our organs but they will function just like the real thing.