February 1, 2024

Organoids as alternative to donor organ transplantation for patients with liver disease

New tissue engineering and 3D printing techniques could transform how liver disease is treated, potentially saving thousands of lives. The results of the EU-H2020 funded ORGANTRANS project, set to develop a disruptive solution that enables the 3D printing of tissue-engineered constructs, have been published in six languages on EU-Cordis Database.

A hand with a glove holding a transparent so called Smart Lid for Perfusion
© CSEM - Organoid solution: the building blocks behind personalized liver tissues. After sorting and printing, the liver constructs are perfused in smart labware before transplantation (Smart Lid for Perfusion).

Addressing a Global Crisis: Liver Diseases and Transplantation

Liver diseases claim millions of lives annually. With liver transplantation emerging as the primary recourse for end-stage liver failure, the demand for donor organs outstrips the available supply, leaving countless patients on waiting lists in peril. Gilles Weder, project coordinator of the EU-H2020 project and Group Leader at CSEM in Switzerland, explains: “Unfortunately, only 10 % of global transplantation needs are currently met, which is why we started an international project to develop alternative treatment methods.”

Applying Bioprinting for liver tissue engineering using organoids

The ORGANTRANS project team has stepped up to this challenge and explored tissue engineering and liver grafts as potential solutions. “We decided to address this clinical need with a 3D tissue printing platform”, states Weder. “The idea was to create a standardized, automated tissue preparation and maturation platform, which provides patients with end-stage liver disease with an alternative to donor organ transplants.”

From sourcing cells to tissue engineering

Focusing on the critical shortfall in donor organs for patients with end-stage liver diseases, the ORGANTRANS project proposed patients that have residual healthy tissue, a novel approach centered on autologous liver stem cells. Combining expertise in cell biology, biomaterials, bioengineering, and automation, the groundbreaking initiative successfully constructed a 1 cm cube of liver tissue. It also laid the groundwork for platform technologies applicable beyond liver transplantation. The next goal is to bridge the divide between lab research & commercialization, a move that necessitates strong partnerships within the pharma industry.

What are organoids used for?

Used to investigate how diseases affect human tissues, organoids (or microtissues, as they are sometimes also called) help in disease modeling, drug testing and organ replacement.


"Results in Brief" on Cordis-EU Website

The project has been published in six languages on CORDIS, a platform for comprehensive information about EU Research & Development projects Organtrans - Applying 3D-tissue-engineering to treat liver disease.

Contributors : Mariana Pacheco Blanco, Bart Spee, Patrick Kugelmeier, Thomas Valentin, Laura De Laporte, Mieke Dewerchin, Petra Novotná Zavaďáková, Stéphanie Boder-Pasche, Kerstin Schneeberger, Yevhen Horokhovatskyi, Alberto Sanchez Fueyo, and Gilles Weder.