Organovo CEO Presents Vision of Enabling Technology Bioprinting Platform

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Organovo CEO Keith Murphy presented the afternoon keynote at Inside 3D Printing Santa Clara. In his presentation to several hundred attendees, Mr. Murphy described a vision of Organovo as an enabling technology bioprinting platform.

The context behind this vision is a dose of reality that 3D printing, especially bioprinting, is still in its infancy.

“If we are stuck in the first chasm for 3D printing, we are probably a lot earlier than that for bioprinting,” explained Mr. Murphy.

While bioprinting can provide unique capabilities to the pharma industry for toxicology testing and disease models, the technology is simply too complex to deploy. Instead, Organovo is working hand in hand with drug companies to develop custom bioprinting strategies and execute them.

Keith Murphy Organovo Inside 3D Printing Santa Clara

“I compare the way we use our platform to a punchcard computing system,” said Mr. Murphy. “It’s so early, we need to be there at the site and working closely.”

Mr. Murphy stated Organovo’s value add to the pharma industry as an enabling technology that can position cells in 3D dimensions so they can have function.

Organovo Business Models

The market size is interesting. There are 6,500 prevalent programs in pharma each year across all therapeutic areas, and each program needs a project run every 9 months. Mr. Murphy quantified these contracts at about $200-600K each, with a median target of $250,000.

Replacing Animal Models

Organovo sees a fundamental flaw with the industry practice of using animal models for drug discovery and disease testing. “The goal is to replace animal models,” said Mr. Murphy.

While the holy grail of bioprinting is to print human organs, this is still a long way off. Organovo’s primary work is generating small tissues, such as liver, in multi-well plates for toxicology testing and disease models. These tissues measure about 3mm in size. 

Organovo has already developed partial 3D printed organs that they are testing in animals. However, they are still 4-6 years away from clinical trials for partial organs. Full organs is a much longer road.
The company was founded with seed funding in 2008, and is now a publicly traded company (NYSE:ONVO) with a $450 million market cap. 
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