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It’s been a big week for bioprinting, with news of planned 3D printed organs coming from both Prellis Biologics and BIOLIFE4D. The bioprinting world is one that doesn’t slow down, and a new research collaboration between multiple major players in the field is set to continue advances. Canadian company Aspect Biosystems is partnering with German InSCREENeX as well as the Fraunhofer Institute for Toxicology and Experimental Medicine (ITEM) to develop 3D printed contractile tissue for pharmaceutical testing. The collaboration is being supported by the National Research Council of Canada Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC-IRAP) and the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy’s Central Innovation Program for SMEs (ZIM).

Aspect Biosystems is known for its Lab-on-a-Printer technology, which consists of a series of modular microfluidic printhead cartridges created for tissue design. Using coaxial flow focusing, a cell-laden biological fiber is generated within the cartridge and printed into a 3D structure. The technology was used to create the company’s 3D BioRing platform, a platform of 3D printed muscle tissue that contracts and relaxes like real muscle tissue. 3D BioRing can be applied to multiple types of contractile tissue; one example is the 3DBioRing Airway, which allows researchers to study bronchoconstriction and relaxation in an in vitro setting.

[Image: Aspect Biosystems]

“We are excited to work with high profile international partners with unique technologies like InSCREENeX and Fraunhofer ITEM to expand the applications of our 3DBioRing muscle tissue platform and develop models of other tissues including blood vessels, heart, and lung,” said Tamer Mohamed, President and CEO of Aspect Biosystems. “Ultimately, this collaboration will enable us to apply our Lab-on-a-Printer bioprinting technology to create novel tissues that can be used to improve the reliability of pre-clinical toxicity testing and could lead to the development of improved therapeutics for a host of vascular, cardiac, and respiratory diseases.”

InSCREENeX is a spinoff company of the Helmholtz Center for Infection Research. It provides genetically engineered cell systems for drug discovery and development, and offers two main product lines: SCREENflex and CI-SCREEN.

“Personalized in vitro test systems that recreate the disease in a dish will take future drug development and regenerative medicine approaches to the next level,” said Dr. Tobias May, CEO of InSCREENeX. “Aspect Biosystems’ bioprinting technology is at the forefront to develop three dimensional tissue with unmatched in-vivo like functionality. By partnering with Aspect Biosystems and Fraunhofer ITEM, and with the support from ZIM and IRAP, we will join forces to develop unique personalized cell systems. These expandable and physiologically relevant cell systems will be used as building blocks to bioprint contractile tissues with unparalleled physiology. This combined approach leads to an easy scalable and consistent production process for bioprinting in vitro tissues of highest quality in unlimited quantity.”

Fraunhofer ITEM conducts independent research projects as well as funded public projects and contract research. Its focus is on translational disease models, diagnostic techniques and innovative therapy, and its research areas range from toxicology and consumer protection to non-clinical and clinical drug research and development and safety testing.

“Valid preclinical testing of new therapeutic drugs requires predictive and available test systems,” said Dr. Armin Braun, Division Director, Preclinical Pharmacology and in vitro Toxicology. “Three-dimensional bioprinting enables the generation of human and physiological functional tissue in almost unlimited quantities and in standardized quality. These test systems will confirm that Aspect’s bioprinted tissues are optimised as reliable preclinical tools to identify the toxicity and efficacy of experimental therapeutics.”

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