The government of Queensland, Australia recently announced a partnership between San Diego-based Organovo and UniQuest, the commercialization arm of the University of Queensland.  According to Organovo’s website, the company “design[s] and create[s] functional human tissues using [its] proprietary three-dimensional bioprinting technology.”  According to Invetech’s website, Invetech and Organovo partnered to create the first commercial bioprinting platform in 2009.  Organovo has also developed 3D printed liver assays for testing drug toxicity.

Ian Walker, Queensland’s Minister for Science and Innovation, announced that the collaboration will allow Organovo to print kidney tissue using cells developed by Australian scientists.  Professor Melissa Little of the Institute for Molecular Bioscience led the research effort, which was supported by a grant of AUD$1 million received from Queensland’s government.

According to 3Dprint.com, the printed kidney tissue will initially be used in the pharmaceutical industry to test drug toxicity.  According to UQ News, the technology may also allow researchers to create better models of kidney disease.  But, Organovo and Professor Little hope to eventually develop bioprinted human kidneys for transplantation.

In the United States, chronic kidney disease affects 26 million adults, and over 100,000 people currently await kidney transplants.  While there exists considerable demand for human kidneys, the supply of such organs is limited.  As a result, artificial kidneys may present a potentially significant market.  In the meantime, kidney tissue produced by Organovo may help pharmaceutical companies effectively conduct toxicity screening prior to conducting clinical trials.