A 3D-printed sample of human liver tissue helped to predict how a preclinical drug would affect a candidate.

Photo Credit: Xconomy

Photo Credit: Xconomy

A 3D-printed sample of living human liver tissue has helped aid in the first successful prediction on how a preclinical drug would affect a candidate's liver. San Diego-based Organovo created the 3D human liver tissue in a petri dish, and it was able to detect the toxicity of a compound that researchers had already found to be safe in a standard battery in preclinical animal studies. The drug's liver toxicity was discovered during another clinical trial, and Organovo was able to detect the issue before exposing people to the drug. 

These results show that the company's technology could aid pharmaceutical companies in exposing which experimental compounds have safety concerns that would traditionally only be exposed during expensive human trials. Organovo's CEO Keith Murphy believes this could help save billions of dollars.

Organovo will be using this technology to launch a preclinical testing business by the end of the year. They will be offering contract researcher services to drug discovery companies, based on the same technology used for its 3D human liver tissue. 

The 3D human liver tissue has different cell types that aren't usually found in the human liver. These cells can arrange themselves in the same formation as what is found in a normal liver. When liver cells are not in their native architecture, they stop producing cholesterol, albumin and cytochrome P450. The 3D liver tissues can produce all three of these.