An Update on Organovo

Organovo is the organ printing company that was partially funded in the early days with an investment from the Methuselah Foundation - an investment that the Foundation has done well by so far. In turn, the Organovo founders are noteworthy supporters of the crowdfunded New Organ Prize that the Foundation is working on these days.

Organovo has engineered a good position for itself even though the technologies it works on will take another decade or two to arrive at maturity. The research community won't be printing organs next year, but between here and the arrival of printed organs somewhere in the 2020s there are many commercially viable products that build upon one another: tissue for research, machinery for laboratories, and so forth.

Wired is running an article that notes some of the recent progress at Organovo:

While this all sounds awesome, the big question remains "When can I print a spare kidney?"

The answer is unsatisfying. Even moderately complex structures, like patches of heart muscles to repair damage from heart attacks are decades out. Still, progress is still being made. "One of the dramatic things we did was to make blood vessels made from a patient's own cells, comprised entirely of human cells, that expand and contract as expected and have reached a strength that's implantable, though they are not yet implanted." says Murphy.

The first "apps" on the Organovo platform will be simple tissues which could be ready for clinical trials in just 5 or 6 years. This is an eternity in smartphone cycles, but is a breakneck pace in healthcare. Until then, Organovo will continue to serve researchers at pharma companies that give the public 3-D printer company a steady stream of revenue, a fact Murphy says is a "fairly novel thing for an early stage life science company."

Organovo also has a strong academic track record including partnerships with Stanford and Harvard along with a string of published papers that have the biomedical community abuzz. Ultimately, Murphy's primary goal is getting more people experimenting. "For me it's allowing greater access to our platform. The bottom line is it needs to be more accessible, faster to more people."

The Wired article is, I think, overly pessimistic on timelines. Yet there is still a great need for projects like the New Organ Prize, greater fundraising, and faster progress.


Thanks for posting this Reason. We're very proud of being the founding investor in this company. The partnership with Autodesk has the potential to transform an already transformative and disruptive technology platform. Currently Organovo's tissue thickness limitation is around 1mm which sounds tiny, but is actually hundreds of thousands of cells thick. My hope for this technology is that the ascending spiral of progress will accrete more and more partners, investment, positive useful research and clinical results, and ultimately competition in the best tradition of the free market. So far, the Mprize has rewarded 4 proofs life extension in experimental mice, and now, Methuselah donors can take some credit for having made Organovo possible...and, as a bonus, 64 people are still alive due to the cloud optimized paired kidney linear optimization software used two hospitals so far (and several more next year) by marrying 21st century bioinformatics with best practices in organ transplants. There is much more to say about this project, but next year will demonstrate more proof in that pudding. The thing I always keep in mind, is that longevity is both statistical AND individual. LE is alot easier if you don't die in the meantime.

And, a huge thank you to you Reason for all you've done to promote this field in general, and specifically for SENS and Methuselah.

Dave Gobel

Posted by: David Gobel at December 29th, 2012 6:58 PM

Can you say please why the share price peaked so dramatically and fell back so quickly?
Thank you

Posted by: Edward Jackson at January 4th, 2013 10:01 AM

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