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3D-Printed Kidney Helps Drug Trials

The University of Queensland has signed an agreement with US bio-printing company Organovo to produce kidney tissues using a 3D printer.

Prof Melissa Little, whose team at UQ’s Institute of Molecular Bioscience has created a tiny kidney from stem cells, said that 3D printing of fully functional mini-kidney tissue would enable better disease modelling and drug development. “The mini-kidney tissue can be used to test the safety of new drugs,” Little said.

“The sad fact is that most new drugs fail during testing in humans, and a big reason for that is that they turn out to be toxic to kidneys. If we can test a drug for kidney toxicity before applying it to human trials, we’ll save a lot of time, effort and money.”

The ultimate goal of Little’s research is to produce artificial kidneys for humans. “There’s more work to get to this point but when we do it will save lives and cut the cost of treating the disease.”