Australia receives its first 3D bioprinter

Published: 27 September 2017 Image credit: Organovo

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The future of medicine has arrived in Melbourne.

Australia’s first ever 3D bioprinter has been delivered to The Murdoch Children’s Research Institute (MCRI), and was officially launched by Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt. 

MCRI has a world-class Stem Cell Medicine research program, and their new printer will provide vast new possibilities for the scientists there.

“The 3D bioprinter will give us the opportunity to bioprint these cells into a more accurate model of the kidney,” Professor Melissa Little, Theme Director of Cell Biology and head of the Kidney Research laboratory at MCRI, as well as the Program Leader of Stem Cells Australia, said. 

“While initially important for modelling disease and screening drugs, we hope that this is also the first step towards regenerative medicine for kidney disease.

“The bioprinter takes cells and places them in the position and shape that you want them to be so you can recreate the structure [of the organ you want to build].

“Ultimately what we want to build [kidneys which are] large enough and functional enough to be able to transplant it back into a patient to improve their renal function.” 

Stem cells can be removed from a patient to build a ‘mini kidney’ – allowing doctors to examine their kidneys more closely, to make a better diagnosis.

“Ultimately what we want to build [are organs using the 3D bioprinter, which are] large enough and functional enough to be able to transplant it back into a patient to improve their renal function.” 

It currently costs Australia $1billion per year to treat people suffering with chronic kidney disease. That amount is expected to increase as the rate of incidences grows by six percent each year. 

Genetic modelling is essential for the diagnosis and treatment of kidney disease, along with a multitude of other illnesses. Tissue-based disease modelling allows scientists to study precision drug screening and regenerative medicine, thanks to 3D bioprinting technology.

Greg Hunt MP said, “it’s about giving parents the chance to see children with rare diseases have a pathway to a full life… These new techniques and the discoveries that are being worked on [at MCRI] save lives and protect lives.

“Our magnificent researchers are now being supported by the best technology in the world… The future of medicine is reliant on technology, treatment and research. And that future is here now.”

Chief Scientific Officer at Organovo Dr Sharon Presnell says, “partnership with world-class institutions will accelerate ground-breaking work in finding cures for critical unmet needs and the development of implantable therapeutic tissue. 

“This collaboration with Professor Melissa Little’s lab is an important step in advancing regenerative medicine.”