Organovo, a three-dimensional biology company focused on delivering scientific and medical breakthroughs using its 3D bioprinting technology, is collaborating with the University of Virginia to develop 3D bioprinted tissues for volumetric muscle loss (“VML”) injury. The research will take place in the laboratory of George J. Christ, Ph.D., professor of biomedical engineering and orthopaedic surgery at UVA.
VML injuries occur in military and civilian populations, often as a result of trauma and life-saving surgery. VML can also be caused by congenital or acquired diseases. When VML injury occurs, the muscle’s natural ability to regenerate cannot overcome the severe damage resulting in permanent functional and cosmetic deficits. There are limited treatments currently available for these patients, which include surgical options that are largely ineffective and have poor cosmetic outcomes. There remains a great need for improved therapies that provide a more complete approach to regeneration of the injured muscle.
“Collaborations that bring together Organovo’s 3D bioprinting platform and top-notch research serve as a catalyst for the development of innovative treatments that meet critical unmet needs,” said Eric David, M.D., J.D., chief strategy officer and executive vice president of preclinical development, Organovo. “Combining the expertise in muscle regeneration of Dr. Christ’s lab and University of Virginia with Organovo’s expertise in constructing human tissues is an important step towards helping patients and families who have been calling for solutions in volumetric muscle loss.”
The Christ lab has conducted extensive studies in regeneration and advancement of biomaterials. It is part of the Advanced Regenerative Manufacturing Institute, which brings together a consortium including UVA and nearly 100 other partners from industry, government, academia and the non-profit sector. The placement of an Organovo printer in this consortium will provide the institute an important technology to aide in achieving their goal of manufacturing human tissues and organs for therapeutic use.
“Current treatment for volumetric muscle loss injury is limited to surgical transfers of the patient’s muscle from a healthy site to the injured site. However, these treatments are associated with poor engraftment of the transferred muscle and can cause death of tissue at the healthy site,” said Dr. Christ. “We believe with the use of Organovo’s 3D bioprinting technology we could quickly develop a more complex and physiologically relevant bioengineered muscle prototype for preclinical testing. Accomplishing this goal would be a huge step in accelerating the therapeutic applications of bioprinted muscle tissues and providing a much-needed treatment to those suffering from volumetric muscle loss.”
The UVA collaboration is one of multiple 3D bioprinter placements that Organovo has with the world’s leading government and academic research institutions.