Organovo (NYSEMKT: ONVO ) is a company whose stock is not for the faint of heart. The company has manufactured the NovoGen MMX bioprinter in an effort to successfully print human tissue in three dimensions. As the technology is just now in its infancy, it should be no surprise that Organovo's stock can swing wildly.
In fact, during 2013, Organovo's stock price has changed more than 5% on 80 separate trading days. That's insane. Obviously, investors need to do two things if they want to own a piece of this company: diversify, and hunker down for a bumpy ride.
With that in mind, here are three things Organovo investors should keep their eyes on during 2014. By no means is this list exhaustive, but knowing what we know now, these three things could go a long way towards explaining how the company and its stock will perform in 2014.
Early spring 2014
At the risk of making a complex subject sound simple, the company has created liver cells that behave like the liver cells in our bodies for up to 30 days. That's a vast improvement over what is available now for pharmaceutical companies looking to see if their drugs are toxic to the liver.
Just this month, the company began functional validation of these 3-D liver assays. Basically, this means that the assays will be exposed to drugs whose effect on real liver tissue is known. In order for Organovo's assays to have any value, they need to demonstrate the same metabolic reactions that occur in the body. Hopefully, investors will know by sometime in March whether the assays produced the desired results.
Assuming the functional validation goes off without a hitch, Organovo will begin alpha and beta testing of its assays in April. This means that Organovo will introduce its assays to key opinion leaders within the industry. Over the next several months, those leaders will kick the tires on Organovo's first real product and offer feedback.
While some tweaks may be manageable, the company hopes that its assays will largely be accepted by the industry, especially key players within the targeted pharmaceutical realm. Though a specific date for results of the alpha and beta testing hasn't been set, investors could hear something by the time September or October roll around.
If all goes well here, Organovo should begin making its 3-D liver cells available for purchase starting in December 2014.
The other important thing to recognize is that Organovo hopes to be more than just a one-trick pony. In addition to liver cells, the company hopes to introduce assays for both kidney and heart cells. Organovo also hopes to develop the ability to print diseased cells for improved drug recovery. These cells range from organs to bones to cancer cells themselves.
It's impossible to know if/when such announcements will occur, but it would no doubt be a great disappointment if Organovo's innovation were to stop at 3-D liver assays.
I only own a little Organovo, but a lot more of these 3-D printing companies
Like I said in the beginning, Organovo investors should be sure to diversify. As it stands now, shares of the company make up less than 1% of my real-life holdings. There are other players in the industry, however, that make up much larger holdings.
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