Printing Human Organs — One Step Closer to Reality

Human tissue engineering startup receives $1.8 million in seed investment to develop technology capable of 3D printing an organ’s microvascular structure.

3D printing’s potential in creating replacement human organs became one step closer to reality on the announcement that Prellis Biologics received $1.8 million in seed funding from True Ventures to accelerate the development of technology able to print the complex microvascular systems that supply vital oxygen and nutrients to organ tissue.

Leading the innovative effort are two scientists Dr. Melanie Matheu and Dr. Noelle Mullin, both with extensive experience in 3D tissue imaging and stem biology. According to Prellis, the company is solving what it described as the greatest obstacle to producing functional, transplantable human organs; the ability to print microvasculature. Prellis’ said its patent-pending technology’s “near instantaneous” 3D printing capabilities allow it to overcome the “engineering problem” stemming from trying to print structures at such scale and complexity.

Matheu, Co-founder and Prellis’ Chief Executive Officer noted, “Our vision is to create a company that uses technology to print any type of human organ, providing people with a long-lasting solution to a given medical issue. We believe our technology will jumpstart the practical use of lab-printed tissue for life-saving drug development, rapid development of human antibodies, and production of human organs for transplant.”

According to Prellis, current methods for printing human organs had hit a roadblock technically, with current methods incapable of creating the tiny microscopic blood vessels required to feed and nourish human tissue. Without microvasculature, cells starve for oxygen and nutrients and can’t remove wastes. The constraints, said the company, prevented scientists from printing tissue no thicker piece of paper. Prellis said building scaffolding that includes microvascular structures solves this problem. “These thicker tissues, said the company, are the building blocks of functional organs.”

Mullin, Co-founder and Chief Scientific Officer of Prellis emphasized this point: “Over 230 people die every day in the U.S. from liver and kidney disease. By coupling stem cell and immunology expertise with our 3D printing technology, we’ll be able to produce organs and tissues with the precise vascular infrastructure necessary to make them viable.”

Leading the $1.8 million seed investment is Silicon Valley-based venture capital firm True Ventures, joined by Civilization Ventures, 415 Ventures and a group of “angel” investors. “Producing viable lab-grown human tissue will revolutionize healthcare, and the Prellis team is at the forefront of that movement,” said Rohit Sharma, Venture Partner at True Ventures and Prellis Board Member.


Emilie Branch

Emilie is responsible for strategic content development based on scientific areas of specialty for Nice Insight research articles and for assisting client content development across a range of industry channels. Prior to joining Nice Insight, Emilie worked at a strategy-based consulting firm focused on consumer ethnographic research. She also has experience as a contributing editor, and has worked as a freelance writer for a host of news and trends-related publications