First published 27 September 2017

This three-dimensional (3D) bioprinter is the first that Organovo has placed in the Southern hemisphere will support kidney tissue engineering and disease modelling research of Professor Melissa Little and her colleagues within MCRI's world-class Stem Cell Medicine research program.

MCRI 3D bioprinter

The modelling of human tissues is set to change health by providing a personalised approach to drug screening. Professor Little, also Program Leader of Stem Cells Australia, sees tissue-based disease modelling with the NovoGen Bioprinter as an ideal platform to study precision drug screening and regenerative medicine.

"Partnership with world-class institutions will accelerate ground breaking work in finding cures for critical unmet needs and the development of implantable therapeutic tissue, said Dr. Sharon Presnell, chief scientific officer, Organovo. "This collaboration with Professor Melissa Little's lab is an important step in advancing regenerative medicine."

Professor Little is world renowned for her kidney research. She and her team have already developed a way to grow a 'mini kidney' from adult skin and blood cells. Using Organovo's revolutionary 3D bioprinting technology, they will now be able to create an even more accurate model of the human kidney.

Chronic kidney disease is rising in incidence by 6% per annum and costs the Australian economy $1 billion a year. It is estimated by Kidney Health Australia that 1 in 10 Australians will show evidence of chronic kidney disease by 2020, but only 1 in 4 patients will receive a transplant. Hence, there is an acute need to develop new therapies. Genetic kidney disease underlies renal failure in more than half of children with this disease. Patient stem cell models will help to diagnose and treat these conditions.

The Federal Health Minister, Greg Hunt officially launched the 3D bioprinter at MCRI, he said, "MCRI is the foremost children's research institute in Australia. Chronic kidney disease is rising by 6 per cent every year. This innovative 3D Bioprinter has the potential to change the way we treat patients with kidney disease."

The collaboration has been made possible by a generous gift from the Methuselah Foundation as part of its ongoing University 3D Bioprinter Program.

"We are very grateful to Organovo and the Methuselah Foundation for their generous support.  The 3D bioprinter will give us the opportunity to bioprint these cells into a more accurate model of the kidney.  While initially important for modelling disease and screening drugs, we hope that this is also the first step towards regenerative medicine for kidney disease," Professor Little said.