Bengalru start-up develops artificial lever tissue

A Bengaluru-based biotech start-up, Pandorum Technologies, has develop artificial living tissue that performs the functions of a human liver, which could lead to the development of affordable, full-scale transplantable organs in the near future.

A trio comprising Arun Chandru, Dr Abdullah Chand and Dr Sivarajan T - all senior scientists at Pandorum Technologies Pvt Ltd - achieved the breakthrough.

The idea for creation of the tissue evolved way back in 2009. In 2012, the researchers received a grant for the research project from the department of biotechnology (DBT), under the ministry of science and technology.

Pandorum is funded by the department of biotechnology and incubated at the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Platforms (C-CAMP), Bangalore Bio-Cluster.

The development has not yet reached the stage where the artificial lever can be transplanted. For now, it will remain a test platform for discovery and development of drugs with better efficacy, less side-effects and lower costs.

These 3D printed tissues, developed with minimal animal and human trials, would also make it possible to develop new medicines and vaccines. ''This is a significant milestone,'' said Tuhin Bhowmick, co-founder of Pandorum

Pandorum becomes the first Indian firm to develop an artificial liver tissue.

''Development of artificial organs has numerous clinical uses. Cell based organoids can be used to develop bio-artificial liver support systems for preserving life in patients who have developed liver failure. In the near future, such bio-printed organs will address the acute shortage of human organs available for surgical transplantation,'' said Bhowmick.

Pandorum has also succeeded in keeping the cells alive for four weeks.

The breakthrough besides brightening hopes for patients seeking liver tissues from live donors, has also potentially created an alternative to artificial extracorporeal liver support (or liver dialysis) used in detoxification treatment for liver failure.

In India, more than 75,000 livers, 200,000 kidneys and 50,000 hearts are needed in hospitals across the country and thousands of lives are lost every year because of unavailability of organs.

The current availability through organ donation and cadaver transplants is around 1,500 livers, 7,000 kidneys and just 50 hearts.

''Liver toxicity and drug metabolism are the key hurdles, and contributors to failed human trials. Our 3D bio-printed mini-livers that mimic the human liver will serve as test platforms for discovery and development of drugs with better efficacy, less side-effects and at lower costs,'' said Arun Chandru, co-founder and managing director of Pandorum.

Pharma giants on an average spend more than $10 billion on R&D to get a single new drug to market with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval. The global market for in-vitro toxicity testing alone is expected to reach $4 billion by 2018. Pandorum says its technology could reduce costs of drug R&D and testing by as much as 30 per cent.