Hyderabad: Pandorum Technologies Pvt. Ltd, a biotechnology start-up focused on tissue engineering, has made India’s first artificial human liver tissue with the help of 3D printing technology.
The tissue performs critical functions of a human liver tissue including detoxification, metabolism and secretion of biochemicals such as albumin and cholesterol.
“The tissue can grow and survive up to eight weeks,” Arun Chandru, co-founder and managing director, said on Tuesday.
Chandru along with Tuhin Bhowmick, researchers from Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bangalore, founded Pandorum in 2011 to make artificial human organs on demand.
To build liver tissue of 5 mm size Pandorum needed 10 million liver cells, which were arranged in three-dimensional architecture, a bio-material made up of glucose, proteins and living cells extracted from a particular type of insect is used as ink, which is placed in three interchangeable dispensers of the printer’s head controlled by lasers.
Pandorum sourced a million liver cells from a bio-bank and multiplied them in its laboratory.
“This is a significant milestone,” said Bhowmick, referring to Pandorum’s ultimate aim of printing complete organs.
Bhowmick holds a PhD from IISc, with expertise in structure based design of macromolecules, and biomaterials with focus on drug delivery and tissue engineering.
3D printing technology has the potential to save lives of patients with liver failure, Bhowmick said.
While the current 3D printing technology is able to make small slices of tissue, producing a complete organ such as the liver with 300 billion cells may take several years, analysts say.
As of today, 3D printed living tissues are used for testing drugs in the early-development phase.
“Liver toxicity and drug metabolism are the key hurdles, and contributors to failed human trials,” Chandru said. “Our 3D bio-printed mini-livers that mimic the human liver will serve as test platforms for discovery and development of drugs with better efficacy, less side-effects and at lower costs.”
Pandorum said it is trying to reach out to contract research organisations that work on early-stage drug discovery.
Pandorum is supported by grants from the Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council and is incubated at the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Platforms, Bangalore Bio-Cluster.