This week, Genome British Columbia (BC), which leads genomics innovation on the West Coast of Canada, announced that it has invested $1 million in funding to Aspect Biosystems, a leading Canadian biotechnology company, through its Industry Innovation (I²) funding program. The I² Fund gives commercialization support to innovative companies developing life science technologies that address biological challenges in key economic sectors in BC, such as agriculture, human health, energy and mining, forestry and environment, and fisheries and aquaculture.
“Genome BC’s investment in Aspect Biosystems will provide funds to further their commercialization initiatives including partnership activities as well as development of their platform technology. Aspect has shown significant commercial traction in a very short period of time and we are pleased to support their continued growth,” said Dr. Tony Brooks, Genome BC’s CFO and Vice President for Entrepreneurship and Commercialization.
Genome BC works with many national and international funding organizations, both public and private, in order to facilitate the integration of genomics into society. Its repayable I² Fund, which is allocated to promising technologies at the early stages of commercial development, also supports digital health and other technologies that help move precision medicine along into clinical practice, and Aspect certainly qualifies.
The privately held biotechnology company, which 3D printed human cells back in 2014, is well known for its proprietary Lab-on-a-Printer 3D bioprinting platform technology, which has many therapeutic applications and helps to facilitate advances in disease research, regenerative medicine, understanding fundamental biology, and the development of novel therapeutics. It also enables rapid creation of functional living tissues.
Lab-on-a-Printer is made up of a series of disposable, modular, microfluidic printhead cartridges for highly complex, heterogeneous tissue design, and also includes a proprietary software suite. It uses coaxial flow focusing to generate a cell-laden biological fiber within the cartridge, which is then printed into a 3D structure. This platform makes it possible to create next-generation engineered tissue products for applications like transplantable tissue therapeutics and predictive drug testing platforms.
Microfluidic devices, which are used to manipulate tiny drops of fluid, have been used before to 3D print living cells for tissue engineering. This is why biotechnology and 3D bioprinting are so important – there are all sorts of useful applications that can come out of the innovations currently being created in laboratories and research facilities around the world.
Aspect wants to commercialize its 3D bioprinting technologies and realize the full potential of its platform, which is why it strategically partners up with researchers and companies in the biotechnology, pharmaceutical, and healthcare fields to create tissues that are both commercially and physiologically relevant.
In the fall, Aspect worked with Fraunhofer ITEM and Germany company InSCREENeX to develop 3D printed contractile tissue for pharmaceutical testing using its platform. The company can increase development of tissue applications and impact medical practice and research by combining its technology with field experts. With this new funding from Genome BC, it can take another step towards commercialization.
“Genome BC is playing an instrumental role in accelerating British Columbia’s most promising life science innovations and we are thrilled to have their support,” said Tamer Mohamed, the President and CEO of Aspect Biosystems. “With this additional financing, we are further increasing our capacity to meet key commercial demands and continuing our rapid growth as we work towards enabling the creation of human tissues on demand.”
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