The future technology 3D printing of organs. The first part focused on Dr. Anthony Atala and his work at the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. He will probably be the first to receive formal approval for 3D printed implants. Dr. Gabor Forgacs has a different focus. While Dr. Atala strives to replace organs 1:1 with printed implants, Dr. Forgacs sees greater potential in the field of pharmacology. He is interested in printing individual biomaterials on which doctors can test the effectiveness and mode of action of pharmaceuticals. A test on the individual body, but before prescribing the drugs to the individual patient. The advantages are obvious: risks are reduced, intolerances become apparent in advance, and dosages can be tested. As a result, patients can be treated more efficiently: cheaper, gentler, more effective.
With Organovo, Dr. Forgacs can claim to have founded the first commercial company in the field of 3D printing of organs. He was already a guest at the 2b AHEAD ThinkTank in 2012. With his focus on samples for toxicological tests, he also avoids most hurdles to approval. In addition, he expects an application of 3D printing, especially in the area of prostheses, which has long since become reality in many areas. Hearing aids have long been in use in the double-digit millions. However, the actual potential of Forgacs’ approach seems to lie in the area of pharmaceutical development anyway. Every day that technology can shorten the enormous development cycles of new drugs is enormously valuable in monetary terms alone.
Use cases as drivers for 3D printing of organs
It’s worth taking a look at TeVido BioDevices, a company based in Austin, Texas. In contrast to Atala and Forgacs, founder Laura Bosworth does not start on the technology side, but from a relevant problem. In this case: the reconstruction of the breast after cancer. More precisely: The medically correct, but often visually unsatisfactory reconstruction. TeVido manufactures artificial nipples using 3D printing technology with natural optics thanks to natural substances.
3D printing of organs is therefore a safe candidate for a promising future: technology with experience and potential for scaling, decentralized know-how, relevant use cases.