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arrange themselves in the architecture found in a normal liver. When liver cells are not in their native architecture, she says they stop producing cholesterol, albumin, and cytochrome P450, which play different roles in the blood and help to metabolize drugs. Organovo says its 3-D liver tissues produce all three—in contrast, almost all hepatic cell lines now used in cell culture and drug testing, don’t do what normal liver cells do.
In a regulatory disclosure filed two months ago, Organovo says its system can distinguish a toxic compound known to induce liver injury from a closely related chemical known to be non-toxic. In the June 26 statement, Organovo says, “The toxicity of the toxic compound was detected at physiologically relevant doses, an important observation not previously reported with the same compounds in other model liver systems.”
The company says the findings were presented on June 25 at the 3D Cell Culture 2014 conference in Freiburg, Germany, by Adrian Roth, head of mechanistic safety for Roche Pharmaceutical Research and Early Development at the Roche Innovation Center in Basel, Switzerland.
Roth intends to also publish the findings in a peer-reviewed journal, although the company could not elaborate, saying how and where it would be published was entirely up to Roth. He has been overseeing the research under a collaborative agreement in which Roche funds the work conducted by Organovo scientists at the company’s San Diego headquarters.
Organovo’s Murphy sees a sustainable business in developing a suite of three-dimensional human tissues to offer preclinical assessments of drug effects in multiple areas. He says the company has signed multiple collaborative research agreements with pharmaceutical companies and academic medical centers.
Organovo’s financial results, on the other hand, underscore the fragility of the company’s strategy. After going public in 2012 through a reverse merger, Organovo is loaded with debt, bleeding cash, and generating little revenue.
As of June 30, Organovo had available cash of just under $45 million and an accumulated deficit of $98.6 million, according to its fiscal first quarter financial results. The company reported total revenue of $100,000 for the quarter, which was generated mostly from its collaborative research agreements. Meanwhile, Organovo’s operating expenses increased to $6.5 million, a 71 percent increase over the $3.8 million reported for the same quarter last year.
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