Queensland research leads to 3D printed kidneys

A US company is planning to produce kidney tissue on a 3D printer using technology developed in Queensland.
Written by AAP , Contributor and  Leon Spencer, Contributor

The University of Queensland's commercialisation company, UniQuest, has signed an agreement with San Diego-based 3D bio-printing company to replicate a kidney with 3D printing.

The university's Professor Melissa Little and her team last year grew a tiny kidney in a laboratory dish. That will now be replicated through 3D bioprinting.

Little said 3D printing of functional kidney tissue would enable better disease modelling and drug development.

"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," she said.

"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."

Little said her ultimate goal would be to produce artificial kidneys for humans.

According to Queensland's minister for science, information technology, innovation and the arts, Ian Walker, the state contibuted AU$1 million to support Little's research.

"One in three Australians are at risk of developing chronic kidney disease so what Professor Little accomplished last year was a hugely important development," said Walker.

He said the breakthrough drew enormous international interest, including from Organovo, because of the continuous research progress shown in Professor Little’s labs.

“The agreement with Organovo, the world leader’s in 3D printing of human tissue, will optimise the cells created using Professor Little’s technology in order to print kidney tissues from them using 3D bioprinting," he said.

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