Bioprinting functioning human organs is still a ways off, but the technology is advancing rapidly, thanks to companies such as Organovo (San Diego, CA). The company has been making headlines for its bioprinting technology that enables the creation of 3D tissues that function in native ways without the use of artificial materials. Pharmaceuticals companies see vast potential in the technology for drug discovery.
Organovo can print strips of human liver tissue in its labs in about 45 minutes, and it takes another two days for the cells to grow and mature, CEO Keith Murphy told CNN recently. The models can then survive for about 40 days. Organovo has also built models of human kidneys, bone, cartilage, muscle, blood vessels and lung tissue, Murphy said.
It may be a while until 3D printers are spitting out spare parts for humans; then again, it's part of Organovo's 10-year plan.
Your liver is being printed