Thursday, 20 December 2012
Autodesk Developing CAD Software to Design, 3-D Print Living Tissue
Autodesk, the industry leader in CAD software, has announced it is partnering with biological printer manufacturer Organovo to create 3-D design software for designing and printing living tissue.
It’s an area of interest to Autodesk, whose software runs the industrial design and architecture worlds, allowing them to expand further into new fields by helping researchers interface with new tools.
Organovo’s bioplotter, one of the only machines that can shape living tissue, works like a standard desktop 3-D printers but uses living cells instead of ABS plastic. It creates tissue by printing a gel base material as a scaffold and then deposits cells which mature into living material that can be used in the process of developing new pharmaceuticals.
Specific details about the system, including pricing and availability, are not yet available. Even with scant details, executives at both companies are excited about the potential of such a system.
“Autodesk is an excellent fit for developing new software for 3D bioprinters,” Organovo CEO Keith Murphy says in a press release. “This partnership will lead to advances in bioprinting, including both greater flexibility and throughput internally, and the potential long-term ability for customers to design their own 3D tissues for production by Organovo.”
Jeff Kowalski, senior VP/CTO at Autodesk, echoes Murphy’s sentiment. “Bioprinting has the potential to change the world,” he says. “It’s a blend of engineering, biology and 3D printing, which makes it a natural for Autodesk. I think working with Organovo to explore and evolve this emerging field will yield some fascinating and radical advances in medical research.”
While this announcement is certainly big news, we’re multiple revisions away from 3-D printing replacement body parts. Even after the technical difficulties of printing organs or even tissue for live human use are worked through, any resulting process will need to be validated through complex clinical trials and a long review by the FDA and international authorities. Still, it will be exciting to see what medical researchers and DIY biohackers will do with these tools.