3D Bioprinting – A biotech innovation


by Sudhir Ahluwalia | Negosentro.com |

New molecules and drug combinations require to be tested first on animals. These are followed by time consuming but essential pre clinical and clinical human trials. Regulatory approval is accorded only on successful conclusion of trials. The process is often known to take years. Patients in the meanwhile wait for that miracle cure that will lessen the weight of suffering.

3D Bioprinters are now making it possible for us to print living cell tissue. This can be laid down and printed in the exact detail with capillaries and other tissue components all intact. This innovation is now making it possible to conclude preclinical trials on human tissue faster and more efficaciously. This has led to a spurt in demand for 3 D cell tissue.  According to BCC Research the demand for this tissue is estimated to reach $2.2 billion by 2019.

BioBots.io is a startup that has developed an affordable 3D bioprinter. This is a Philadelphia, USA based startup. The innovators have succeeded in manufacturing 3 D bioprinters that are being sold at $10,000 a unit. Earlier a similar device would have put you back by $200000. The startup began its journey in 2014.

Its two co Founders Danny Cabrera and Ricky Solorzano are geneticists and experts in regenerative medicine. These two are University of Philadelphia Graduates. I spoke to Danny Cabrera to get a perspective on their innovation and their venture.

A bioprinter simply put prints a living 3 D tissue. Not unlike any printing, it is the composition and design of the tissue that will be finally printed that is the most complex part of the operation. It is a three dimensional tissue model that lies at the heart of bioprinting.

The ink used in 3 D bioprinter is composed of living cells. Organovo, as stated earlier,  has developed a composite 3 D liver tissue. The tissue is constructed from three cellular elements – primary hepatocytes, primary endothelial cells and primary stellate cells.

Current capability to bioprint living tissue is still quite restricted. Organovo another Bioprinting and biotech company (www.organovo.com) are bioprinting in 3 D format human liver tissue and mini brains all with neurons and vessels intact. Similar capability would, I suspect, exist with BioBots 3D bioprinters too.

3 D tissue printed is being used by pharmaceutical drug manufacturers, researchers, cosmetic research institutions and other scientists. 2 D tissues do not possess depth and are unable to reflect tissue microenvironment critical to conducting effective preclinical trials.

sudhir caricatureAbout Sudhir

Sudhir Ahluwalia is a business consultant. He has been management consulting head of Asia’s largest IT outsourcing company Tata Consultancy Services, business advisor to multiple companies, columnist and author of upcoming book on herbs-Holy Herbs. He has been a member of the Indian Forest Service. His webpage is: www.sudhirahluwalia.com

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