Process Could Aid Clinical Trials, Transplants
Pharmaceutical companies invest millions of dollars to test drugs, many of which will never reach the market because of side effects found only during human clinical trials. At the same time, the number of patients waiting for organ transplants continues to increase. In the past 10 years, this number has nearly doubled. Now, innovative work by an MU physics researcher might present new solutions to both problems with the help of a very special printer.
For the past four years, Gabor Forgacs, the George H. Vineyard Professor of Physics, has been working to refine the process of "printing" tissue structures of complex shape with the aim of eventually building human organs. In his latest study, a research team led by Forgacs determined that the process of building such structures by printing does not harm the properties of the composing cells, and that the process mimics the naturally occurring biological assembly of living tissues.
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The study is being published in an upcoming edition of Tissue Engineering and was funded by a $5-million grant from the National Science Foundation. Forgacs also has become involved with a company, Organovo, Inc., which is interested in licensing the technology. He plans to work with drug companies to provide them with tissues they can use to test drugs prior to human clinical trials.