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3D Bioprinting and Organ-on-a-chip: The Future of Artificial Organ Development

3D Bioprinting and Organ-on-a-chip: The Future of Artificial Organ Development

Healthcare | Mar, 2024

The medical field has always been pushing the envelope in terms of innovation and technology. Recent advancements in state-of-the-art microfabrication and additive manufacturing technologies have revolutionized the field of tissue engineering, offering novel approaches for biomedical research and therapeutic applications. Among these advancements, two methodologies have emerged as particularly promising: organ-on-a-chip (OOC, organ-chips) and 3D printing. These innovative techniques have garnered significant attention and popularity within the scientific community due to their ability to provide unique platforms for studying complex cellular interactions and developing biocompatible organ surrogates.

The integration of microfluidic organ-chips and 3D printing technologies has further expanded the capabilities of tissue engineering research. By combining the physiological relevance of organ-chips with the structural complexity of 3D-printed constructs, researchers can create advanced platforms for studying disease mechanisms, drug responses, and tissue regeneration processes. In this blog post, we will delve into what 3D bioprinting, and Organ-on-a-Chip are, and how they’re revolutionizing the future of artificial organ development.

3D Bioprinting

3D Bioprinting is the process of creating a three-dimensional structure using live cells. First, a 3D computer model is created, and then it is loaded onto a 3D printer. The printer then prints the model layer by layer, using a biomaterial as a scaffold onto which cells are added. Once the structure is fully printed, it is placed in an incubator to allow the cells to flourish. The technique has been used to create various types of tissues, including cartilage, skin, and blood vessels. Scientists believe that with the aid of 3D bioprinting, they can develop more complex organs like kidneys, livers, and hearts.

One of the biggest benefits of 3D bioprinting is that it is patient specific. This means that organs can be printed to match the recipient’s exact needs, reducing the risk of rejection and increasing the success of the transplant. In addition, since the organs are made from the patient’s own cells, the risk of disease transmission is eliminated.

The Advantages of Bioprinting You Need to Know About:

  1. Reduced Dependence on Organ Donors: One of the most significant advantages of bioprinting is that it can help reduce dependence on organ donors. Currently, the demand for organ transplants far exceeds the supply of donor organs, leading to long waiting lists and a significant number of patients unable to receive life-saving treatments. Bioprinting offers a promising solution to this challenge by enabling the fabrication of functional tissue and organ constructs using the patient's own cells or donor cells.
  2. Customizable Organs and Tissues: Another advantage of bioprinting is that it allows us to create customized organs and tissues. This means that we can create organs and tissues that are tailored to the specific needs of an individual patient. Bioprinting allows researchers and clinicians to precisely control the composition, architecture, and functionality of the fabricated tissues and organs. By utilizing patient-specific data, such as medical imaging scans and genetic information, bioprinters can create organ and tissue constructs that closely match the anatomical and physiological characteristics of the recipient.
  3. Testing New Drugs and Treatments: Bioprinting allows us to create realistic models of human organs and tissues that can be used to test new drugs and treatments. One of the key advantages of bioprinted organoids is their ability to recapitulate the complexity and functionality of human organs in vitro. By incorporating multiple cell types, extracellular matrix components, and physiological cues into the tissue constructs, bioprinting technology enables the recreation of tissue microenvironments that closely resemble those found in the human body.
  4. Improved Surgical Outcomes: Bioprinting can also improve surgical outcomes by allowing surgeons to practice complex surgeries before they are performed on a patient. This means that surgeons can plan and practice surgeries on realistic models of organs and tissues, reducing the risk of complications and improving patient outcomes.
  5. Potential Cost Savings: While bioprinting is still in its early stages and isn't yet widely available, it has the potential to be a cost-effective solution for healthcare in the long run. One potential area where bioprinting could lead to cost savings is in the field of organ transplantation. Currently, the process of organ donation and transplantation involves significant costs, including donor screening, organ procurement, surgical procedures, and post-transplant care. Additionally, the shortage of donor organs often leads to long waiting lists and increased healthcare expenditures for patients awaiting transplantation. Bioprinting offers a promising alternative by providing the ability to fabricate customized tissue and organ constructs using the patient's own cells or donor cells.

List of Top 5 Bioprinting Companies:

  • Organovo: The highly renowned tissue engineering company is Organovo, headquartered in San Diego. Organovo has been actively engaged in the development of a range of human tissues for medical research and drug discovery purposes. Their portfolio includes both normal tissues and meticulously designed disease models. Furthermore, they are dedicated to the advancement of specific tissues for clinical patient care. In 2014, the company achieved successful printing of liver tissue that functioned as a real liver for weeks. Furthermore, in 2015, the company utilized its 3D bioprinter to generate fully functional human kidney tubular tissues.
  • Cellink: Cellink, a US-based company, specializes in the development of bioprinters and bioprinting materials. These cutting-edge technologies provide researchers and healthcare providers with ready-to-print or use models, enabling advancements in 3D cell culture, personalized medicine, and enhanced therapeutics. By utilizing this disruptive technology, Cellink is able to print various tissues, including liver, cartilage, skin, and even fully functional cancer tumors. This opens up new possibilities for the development of innovative cancer treatment.
  • Aspect Biosystems: Aspect Biosystems is a Canadian biotechnology company that focuses on developing bioprinted tissue therapeutics. These innovative tissues are designed to replace, repair, or enhance biological functions in the body, offering new possibilities for the treatment of currently incurable diseases.
  • Cyfuse Biomedical: Cyfuse Biomedical is a Japanese bioprinting company. The company is involved in the development of pipelines to obtain regulatory approval for regenerative medicine products and contract research cell products in the field of regenerative medicine. The objective of Cyfuse is to facilitate the practical implementation of "3D cellular products" using Bio 3D Printing technology, thereby providing novel treatment options to patients that were previously unavailable. Cyfuse specializes in a unique tissue fabrication process that eliminates the need for scaffolds like polymers or collagen, resulting in faster and more efficient tissue generation.
  • TeVido Biodevices: The Austin-based bioprinting company offers a source of hope for breast cancer survivors, ensuring that they can maintain their sense of femininity even after undergoing serious surgeries. The name TeVido originates from the combination of two Spanish words: tejido (tissue) and vida (life). They utilize 3D printers for a range of reconstructive and cosmetic procedures. Their treatments encompass autologous cell therapy for vitiligo patients as well as nipple reconstruction for breast cancer survivors. By incorporating the patient's own pigment-producing cells (melanocytes) and tissues during the printing process, they aim to minimize the risk of rejection and enhance the patients' quality of life.


Organ-on-a-chip is a chip that contains human cells and mimics the functions of a specific organ. The goal is to develop a system that mimics the functions of the entire human body on a chip. The technology has the potential to reduce the need for animal testing, as researchers can test drugs on the chip and see how it affects the human organs. The chip is made up of tiny channels that allow the cells to flow and interact with each other like they would in a human organ. Scientists can manipulate the microenvironment surrounding the cells to mimic the conditions of the organ. The beauty of Organ-on-a-Chip is that it is highly customizable. Different organs can be modeled by adjusting the shape and fluid flow of the channels. For instance, a liver model can be made by shaping the channels to resemble the liver’s bile ducts and blood vessels.

OoCs utilize advanced in vitro technology to facilitate experimentation with biological cells and tissues outside of the body. This is accomplished by confining them within specially conditioned vessels that mimic the in-vivo environment in terms of biochemistry and physics. Operating at the microscale provides a distinct opportunity to exert precise control over the microenvironment, ensuring tissue viability and enabling direct observation of cell and tissue dynamics.

Major players in the organ-on-chip market:

  • Altis Biosystems: Altis Biosystems has been at the forefront of developing Repligut Systems, a series of in vitro models derived from stem cells. These models are meticulously designed for pre-clinical drug discovery, aiming to replicate the intricate structure of the human small intestine and colonic epithelium. The user-friendly format further enhances their accessibility.
  • AxoSim Inc.: AxoSim Inc. is a pioneering force in the advancement and implementation of a state-of-the-art biomimetic human drug discovery platform. The company is focused on the rapid expansion of its platform's applications to effectively tackle the increasing challenges posed by neurodegenerative diseases. In October 2023, AxoSim successfully acquired Stemonix's microBrain technology and its associated assets.
  • BiomimX SRL: BiomimX is an innovative Startup, spinoff of Politecnico di Milano since 2017. The company focuses on the discovery of new treatments for Big Diseases, towards a Precision Medicine future.
  • Emulate Inc: Emulate, Inc. is a leading biotechnology company that has successfully commercialized Organs-on-Chips technology. This cutting-edge human cell-based technology accurately replicates organ-level function, providing valuable insights into both healthy and diseased states. The company was founded in 2013. The groundbreaking research on Organ-Chips was initiated by the company's esteemed founding team at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering, situated at Harvard University.
  • Hesperos: Hesperos is a leading company in human-on-a-chip technology, specializing in disease modeling and drug testing. With its state-of-the-art human-on-a-chip systems, it delivers world-class research and innovation.

According to TechSci Research “Organ-on-Chip Market - Global Industry Size, Share, Trends, Opportunity, and Forecast, 2018-2028 Segmented By Type (Liver, Heart, Lung, Kidney, Others), By Offering (Products v/s Services), By Material Type (Polymer, PDMS, Glass, Silicon, Others), By Application (Physiological Model Development, Drug Discovery, Toxicological Research, Molecular Biology, Others), By End User (Pharmaceutical & Biotechnology Companies, Academic & Research Institutes, Others), By Region and Competition” the Global Organ-on-Chip Market valued at USD 388.20 million in 2022 and is anticipated to project impressive growth in the forecast period with a CAGR of 25.61% through 2028.

Combined Use of Both Technologies

The combination of 3D bioprinting and Organ-on-a-Chip technology is breaking down barriers in the medical field. Researchers can now use the printed organs to test the effects of drugs and other treatments on the Organ-on-a-Chip devices. The chip technology simulates a patient’s response to the treatment, allowing researchers to quickly identify potential issues before they become a problem for the patient.

The combined use of these two technologies has already produced some impressive results. In 2020, researchers printed a miniature heart, complete with blood vessels and heart cells. The heart was functional, and scientists were able to use it to study the effects of drugs on the heart.

According to TechSci Research “Global Artificial Organs Market By Organ Type (Artificial Heart, Artificial Kidney, Artificial Pancreas, Artificial Lungs, Others), By Type (Mechanical, Biomechanical, Biological), By Material Type (Inanimate Polymers, Combination of Inanimate Polymers & Living Cells, Only Living Cells), By Region, Competition, Forecast & Opportunities, 2026” the Global artificial organs market is expected to witness significant growth during the forecast period owing to the increasing acceptance of organ transplant technology among people. The market growth is driven by increasing demand for artificial organs due to scarcity of organ donors, and spike in number of patients suffering from organ failure. Moreover, the introduction of bioartificial materials in manufacturing of artificial organs, technological advancements, and increasing expenditure in healthcare sector are also driving the market growth.


Technology is rapidly changing the health care industry, and 3D bioprinting and Organ-on-a-chip are among the new developments that are expected to revolutionize the future of artificial organ development. 3D bioprinting and Organ-on-a-Chip technology are still in their infancy, but the potential for growth is tremendous. These technologies provide new ways to develop organs that are more functional than the current ones. They also provide a platform for testing drugs that were previously tested on animals, thus reducing the need for animal testing, which is an ethical and cost-saving strategy. As the technology becomes more widespread, it is likely that we will see more tangible outcomes like functional artificial organs that can be used for transplantation. Overall, we’re excited to see what the future holds for 3D bioprinting and Organ-on-a-Chip technology and how they will shape the future of medicine.

In conclusion, 3D bioprinting and Organ-on-a-chip technology hold great potential in advancing the field of regenerative medicine and enhancing the quality of life of patients.