Viscient to bioprint lung tissues to accelerate COVID-19 research

By The Science Advisory Board staff writers

April 1, 2020 -- Biotherapeutics company Viscient Biosciences said it, or a sister company to be funded and launched shortly using the same technology, will use 3D bioprinting technology to create lung tissue to support viral infectivity research and search for an effective therapy against SARS-CoV-2, the novel coronavirus which causes COVID-19.

Viscient is also calling for a pause in the ongoing merger conflict between Organovo and Tarveda Biosciences, given the conditions of the global pandemic. Keith Murphy, founder and CEO of Viscient, also founded Organovo, was its former CEO and Chairman Emeritus, and has opposed the Organovo-Tarveda merger as a 1% stockholder of Organovo.

Viscient noted that Organovo had failed to receive a majority of stockholder votes in favor of the merger with Tarveda. In addition, 47 million shares cast votes against the board's recommendation to allow adjournment of the purported special meeting, according to Viscient. Furthermore, Viscient said that Organovo did not follow the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission guidance in changing the location of the special meeting to hold the merger vote, therefore calling the validity of the adjournment into question.

With the opportunity for 3D bioprinting technology to aid in finding cures for COVID-19, Murphy said he is now reaching out to his former board members at Organovo to seek a pause in the merger conflict in the midst of a global crisis and to settle these matters later.

In December, Viscient reported that the first drug targets were discovered using its 3D bioprinted disease models. The company said it has validated several such targets using its liver fibrosis tissue that replicates nonalcoholic steatohepatitis.

The firm expects that 3D bioprinted and other 3D tissue models made with lung cells, including a patient's own cells, will be used as a "clinical trial in a dish" and enable quick testing of potential COVID-19 therapies.

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