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Local biotech Organovo has secured $3.5 million in venture capital funding for its NovoGen “bioprinting” process. The technology, it’s hoped, will allow scientists to manufacture three-dimensional body parts.

The NovoGen MMX, developed in partnership with Invetech, another local firm, is billed as the world’s first commercially available production bioprinter. It features two high-precision printing heads, one for placing human cells, another for placing a hydrogel, scaffold, or support matrix.

“Building human organs cell-by-cell was considered science fiction not that long ago. Through this clever combination of technology and science we have helped Organovo develop an instrument that will improve people's lives, making the regenerative medicine that Organovo provides accessible to people around the world,” says Fred Davis, president of Invetech.

Experts warn that it could be 20 years or more until bioprinting is able to produce a fully functional organ such as a liver or a lung, if such a feat is even possible. But human testing of printed replacement parts such as vertebrae could begin as soon as five years from now. Last year, Organovo used the NovoGen MMX to produce the first fully bioprinted blood vessels.

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