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COLUMBIA - Researchers at the University of Missouri are playing a major role in the development of cutting-edge technology that could change the way medical transplants work. The concept is called ‘Bio-Printing'.

Researchers on the project hope the machines being developed on the MU campus will eventually be able to produce or "print" new organs and tissues. The technology already has the capability of producing nerve grafts that may be able to repair nerve damage.

The machine that is the size of a desk could potentially eliminate organ donation wait lists, and could be integral for those needing skin grafts, or reparation to nerves... even cosmetic purposes some day.

The concept behind this technology was originally developed by Gabor Forgacs, a professor of biological physics at the University of Missouri, who has been instrumental in the research and development of these machines. He is Chief Scientific Officer of the company Organovo, which he co-founded to work on this project.

Organovo is a regenerative medicine company that has worked with this bio-printing technology since it was founded in 2008. This company is based out of San Diego, but leases space on the University of Missouri campus. 

This project was initially funded by a $5 million National Science Foundation Grant, and under the leadership of Forgacs, researchers around the country have made a lot of progress.

According to Organovo, last December, the company released "data on the first fully bioprinted blood vessels," in addition to the nerve grafts that have been tested in rats.

Here at MU, researchers and graduate students are both taking part in the development process, and some Missouri doctors have taken notice as well.

"I think it's really in its early, infancy stages, but from what I've seen in presentations, it holds promise," Dr. Jason Wellen from Barnes Jewish Hospital in St. Louis said.

The technology just became available for commercial purchase. But it is not yet approved for use on humans.