ARPA-H launches program to bioprint organs on demand


ARPA-H launches program to bioprint organs on demand 

Program aims to restore normal tissue function and eliminate lengthy transplant wait times 

The Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA-H), an agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), today announced the Personalized Regenerative Immunocompetent Nanotechnology Tissue (PRINT) program. PRINT intends to use state-of-the-art bioprinting technology and a regenerative medicine approach to 3D print personalized, on demand organs that will not require immunosuppressive drugs. 

Currently, many individuals need to wait multiple years for a suitable organ or may never receive one. In the U.S., there are 120,000 people on wait lists and only 45,000 transplants performed each year, resulting in an ongoing organ shortage and deaths among those waiting for an organ. Transplanted organs typically last 15-23 years, and all require immunosuppressive drugs for life, which can come with both significant cost and health challenges.  

“If we look at organ need, kidneys are the most transplanted with the longest wait lists, followed by the heart and liver. PRINT will work to address long standing organ shortages and wait lists, first focusing on the kidney, liver, and heart,” says ARPA-H PRINT Program Manager Ryan Spitler, Ph.D. “By starting from multiple different types of cells, we will be creating organs that will be individually matched. The body will not recognize it as a foreign entity, eliminating the need of immunosuppressive drugs, which has never been done in the history of organ transplantation.” 

A major technical challenge in the field is to recreate functional yet complex solid organs that are essential for sustaining life. The PRINT program aims to create a process to enable biofabrication of the kidney, heart, and liver by leveraging 3D bioprinting, cell manufacturing, biomaterials, modeling, and tissue engineering. The goal is to use patient cells or a biobank to quickly produce immune matched replacement organs and restore normal organ function. While complementary to the ARPA-H Health Enabling Advancements through Regenerative Tissue Printing (HEART) project, PRINT will consider a much broader scope of work including multiple cell sources, biofabrication of multiple organ types, varying printing approaches, good manufacturing practice-grade cell manufacturing and biobanking.

“PRINT’s approach has not been done before, and as difficult as it is, it does not come close to how arduous the current state of transplantations is for those in need,” said ARPA-H Director Renee Wegrzyn, Ph.D. “PRINT is pushing research beyond transplanting much needed organs. If successful, this technology would decrease donor list wait times, reduce the need and cost for immunosuppressive drugs and make organs and tissues more widely available for people across the country.” 

Through a forthcoming Innovative Solutions Opening (ISO), PRINT will request proposals focused on three technical areas (TA): TA1, generate all necessary organ cell types from best cell source(s), TA2, large-scale manufacturing of organ cell types, and TA3, organ biofabrication and IND-enabling in vivo testing.  

Multiple awards under this ISO are anticipated. Resources available will depend on the quality of the proposals received and the availability of funds. Learn more about PRINT on its program page, including information about the Special Notice, Proposers’ Day registration, and how to state interest to form an applicant team.