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Bioprinting Organs: Organovo’s Revolution in Organ Transplantation


Organ transplantation is a life-saving procedure for millions of people suffering from organ failure. However, the shortage of available organs for transplantation is a significant challenge worldwide. Bioprinting, a cutting-edge technology that involves the creation of functional human tissues and organs using 3D printing techniques, offers a promising solution to this problem with companies such as Organovo developing innovative solutions to address the challenges in organ transplantation and drug development. 

What is bioprinting? :

Bioprinting involves the use of biomaterials, stem cells, and hydrogels to create personalised organs or tissues. The process involves the precise placement of cells and biomaterials in a three-dimensional structure that mimics the architecture of native tissues and organs. (Panja, 2022).  The use of bioprinting technology has enabled the creation of functional human tissues, such as blood vessels and nerve conduits, and has the potential to create more complex organs, such as livers and kidneys. 

Bioprinting is a rapidly evolving field in biotechnology that has the potential to revolutionise organ transplantation and drug development. By creating functional human tissues and organs, bioprinting can help address the shortage of organs for transplantation, reduce the need for animal testing, and improve the safety and efficacy of drugs. 

The potential use of bioprinted organs in medicine and other fields of science is vast and transformative. Bioprinted organs have the potential to revolutionise healthcare and scientific research in the following ways:

  1. Tissue Engineering: Bioprinting can advance tissue fabrication, enabling the development of physiologically relevant tissue models, organs, and even organs-on-a-chip models for drug testing and disease research. (Jovic,, 2022) 

  2. Regenerative Medicine: Bioprinted tissues and organs hold promise for regenerative medicine, offering solutions for tissue failure due to ageing, diseases, accidents, and congenital defects.

  3. Drug Testing: Bioprinted models are used to test the efficacy and toxicity of drugs, providing more accurate and efficient preclinical testing compared to traditional methods.

  4. Personalised Medicine: Bioprinting allows for the creation of personalised implants and original printed models tailored to individual patients, enhancing patient care and quality of life. (Yaneva, et. al, 2023)

How is Organovo doing that?:

By leveraging 3D bioprinting technology, Organovo aims to create functional human tissues and organs that accurately represent human biology, potentially revolutionizing organ transplantation and drug development.Organovo's approach to bioprinting involves using a proprietary NovoGen Bioprinter® Platform (MMX-07) to perform inkjet bio-printing with bioink, which consists of living cells and building blocks (Listek, 2019). Organovo's bioprinting process involves several key steps that enable the creation of functional human tissues and organs:

1. Identifying Tissue Structure: The process begins by identifying the structure and makeup of the tissue of interest and developing a design using specialized software.

2. Cell Isolation and Growth: Cells are isolated from the tissue and allowed to grow and multiply in a suitable medium to prepare them for printing.

3. Bioink Creation:  A unique "bioink" is created by combining the cells from the previous step with building blocks to form a specialised material for printing.

4. Printing Process: The bioink, containing living cells and building blocks, is inserted into the bioprinter. A software script is then run to guide the printer in creating the physical object layer by layer, replicating the tissue's architecture accurately.

This process allows Organovo to create functional human tissues that closely mimic native tissue structures, offering significant potential in advancing organ transplantation and drug development. The company sources normal or diseased human cells from its subsidiary, Samsara Sciences, and produces its own NovoGel® Bio-Ink for use in the bioprinter (Listek, 2019). The bioprinted tissue output is used in predictive preclinical testing of drug compounds, providing more accurate and efficient toxicity studies compared to traditional 2D alternatives. 

Current Capabilities:

Organovo has successfully created 3D printed liver and kidney tissue cells, demonstrating the potential for developing 3D printed versions of entire organs in the future (Root, 2014). The company's bioprinted liver tissue has functioned as a real liver for at least 42 days, and the kidney tissue has shown promise for toxicity testing. These bioprinted tissues are already being used by pharmaceutical companies for preclinical drug development and toxicity testing, improving the speed and quality of drug development.

Benefits and Future Applications:

Bioprinting offers several benefits over traditional organ transplantation, including the ability to create personalised organs that are a perfect match for the recipient, reducing the risk of rejection. Bioprinting also offers the potential to create organs on demand, reducing the need for organ donors and the associated waiting times. In addition, bioprinting can be used to create tissues and organs for drug testing, reducing the need for animal testing and improving the safety and efficacy of drugs. (Seol,, 2014). 

Organovo and other bioprinting companies must address several challenges to fully realise the potential of bioprinting, however. These include reducing costs, modifying manufacturing processes to overcome structural weaknesses, and increasing adoption among pharmaceutical companies, surgeons, and hospitals. Additionally, regulatory considerations and the development of standardised protocols for bioprinted tissues and organs will be crucial for the widespread adoption of bioprinting in healthcare.


Organovo's approach to bioprinting organs represents a significant step forward in addressing the challenges of organ transplantation and drug development. By leveraging 3D bioprinting technology, Organovo is developing functional human tissues and organs that have the potential to revolutionise healthcare. While several challenges remain, the benefits and future applications of bioprinting make it a promising field with significant potential to improve human health and well-being.


Article prepared by: Chong Yuen Yeng, MBIOS R&D Associate 23/24

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  1. Jovic, T.H., Combellack, E.J., Jessop, Z.M. and Whitaker, I.S. (2020). 3D Bioprinting and the Future of Surgery. Frontiers in Surgery, 7. doi:

  2. Listek, V. (2019). Organovo: Bioprinting Could be the New Solution to Organ Transplantation. [online] | The Voice of 3D Printing / Additive Manufacturing. Available at:  

  3. Panja, N., Maji, S., Choudhuri, S., Ali, K.A. and Hossain, C.M. (2022). 3D Bioprinting of Human Hollow Organs. AAPS PharmSciTech, [online] 23(5). doi:

  4. Root, C. (2014). Organovo Synthesizes Human Liver Tissue With 3D Bioprinting. [online] Available at: 

  5. Seol, Y.-J., Kang, H.-W., Lee, S.J., Atala, A. and Yoo, J.J. (2014). Bioprinting technology and its applications. European Journal of Cardio-Thoracic Surgery, [online] 46(3), pp.342–348. doi:

  6. Yaneva, A., Shopova, D., Bakova, D., Mihaylova, A., Kasnakova, P., Hristozova, M. and Semerdjieva, M. (2023). The Progress in Bioprinting and Its Potential Impact on Health-Related Quality of Life. Bioengineering, [online] 10(8), p.910. doi:


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