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Partnership Will Advance Organ Printing Technology

MU Office of Technology Management & Industry Relation announces licensing agreement with the regenerative medicine company Organovo Inc.

April 13, 2009

Story Contact:  Kelsey Jackson, 573-882-8353,

A new partnership between a University of Missouri researcher and the regenerative medicine company Organovo Inc. will advance organ printing technology and bring it closer to clinical use. The technology developed by Gabor Forgacs, the George H. Vineyard Professor of Physics in the MU College of Arts and Science, could help solve problems in transplant medicine, cardiovascular medicine and tissue repair.

"Every scientist has a dream that his or her basic research will be useful someday," said Forgacs, who will have an active role in the company to help facilitate the translation of the technology from the lab to clinics. "Often, scientists do not feel comfortable or lack the business expertise to advance their research forward in the market. It's not every day that I am presented an opportunity to translate my ideas into practice. To partner with Organovo Inc. is a milestone in my career."

Forgacs uses a custom-built machine about the size of a large refrigerator called a bioprinter that lays down small bio-ink particles, or spheres packed with 10,000 to 40,000 human cells. These spheres are then assembled or "printed" on to sheets of organic, cell friendly "bio-paper." Once printed, the spheres began to fuse in the bio-paper into one structure, much the same way that drops of water will fuse to form a larger drop of water. Blood vessels are currently being manufactured, and once developed further, this technology could be used to create organs or bioconstructs that reproduce organ function, engineer bones and build blood vessels.

"Not every technology and not every team is a good fit, but I quickly recognized that this technology was strong and had great potential in the regenerative medicine field," said Keith Murphy, CEO of Organovo Inc. "Our company can advance organ printing by bringing to the table an understanding of the market needs and the regulatory pathways of medical technology."

Organovo Inc. has used its seed-round funding to open tissue culture space in San Diego and also leases laboratory space at MU. The company is seeking to expand its Missouri presence and create jobs in the region by working with local investors.

"This partnership shows the community that the research at MU is relevant to people's lives," said Chris Fender, director of the Office of Technology Management and Industry Relations. "This provides a great example of how early stage, basic research done at the university develops into practical research that can be commercialized."

Forgacs' initial research was funded by a $5 million grant from the National Science Foundation. For more information about Organovo Inc., visit