Ricoh to Buy 34.5 Percent of Bioprinting Company Elixirgen Scientific

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Japan’s Ricoh Company, Ltd. announces further investment in 3D printing—and bioprinting—teaming up with Elixirgen Scientific, Inc. of Baltimore Maryland. Together, they will be focused on creating new products for the biomedical industry, founded in tissue engineering, and supporting drug discovery through the study and manufacturing of differentiated cells.

In a recent press release, the two companies announced that they will be partnering with a strategy projected to result in a 20-billion-yen ($1.86 billion) business by 2025. This year, however, Ricoh will acquire a 34.5 percent stake in Elixirgen Scientific, and there are also plans to expand to North America with a biomedical division.

In outlining their plans further, the two companies expect to deliver cells sustained from the following:

  • Induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells
  • Cell chips seeded with precisely differentiated cells
  • Evaluation services for drug responses

Elixirgen has a strong foundation in cell differentiation already, and their Quick-Tissue™ technology is capable not just of inducing cells directly but is so efficient that researchers are able to see results in ten days.

“It is expected that disease specific iPS cells, which means iPS cells derived from patients with that disease, can be used as a disease model for drug screening. As differentiated cells manufactured in this process have functions close to mature cells, those cells show phenotypes specific to that disease very well,” stated the companies in their press release.

The partnership between both Ricoh and Elixirgen should benefit greatly from bioprinting technology developed by Ricoh engineers, allowing for precision, accuracy, and high performance in their future endeavors with cell engineering—further encouraged with their inkjet head technology, hardware that they have been developing and perfecting for 40 years.

Over the last 12 years, however, Ricoh has become a presence in the healthcare market with a range of software and accompanying services meant to assist ‘an aging society,’ along with creating products that could make healthcare more affordable.

“We are thrilled to partner with Elixirgen Scientific on this new biomedical development initiative. By combining the technologies from our two companies, it will be possible to produce disease-specific cell chips derived from multiple iPS cell lines, for example,” said Nobuhiro Gemma, Fellow, General Manager of HealthCare Business Group, Ricoh Company, Ltd.

“These cell chips can evaluate the diversity of human responses of chemicals at one time in terms of efficacy and toxicity before moving to the clinical trial stage. In the process of drug discovery, this method using the cell chips will greatly improve the entire drug development process because human diversity is considered in the earliest stage.”

Bioprinting and working to sustain cells in the lab continues to be a challenge for researchers around the world—and while many are focused on different applications to benefit the medical world, most eventually dream of reaching the ultimate goal in being able to support a bioprinting human organ that is suitable for human transplant, eventually putting an end to waiting lists and ongoing illness and early fatalities due to a range of serious health conditions.

Photo: Elixirgen

Tokyo-headquartered Ricoh continues to gain momentum in the 3D printing realm, building its reputation in the ever-growing realm of progressive technology since 2014. While their business and technology experience stem from the conventional printing industry, this is a company that understands what it means to roll with the times—and with huge change.

“Ricoh has an established healthcare business with solutions such as its RICOH Regional Health Net; and in the medical imaging area, with its magnetoencephalography solution. We have also been developing technologies such as 3D Bioprinter and reference DNA plates, and with today’s announcement, this agreement establishes Ricoh firmly as a player in the biomedical field,” added Gemma.

We have been following Ricoh’s transition from traditional printing into a shift with 3D printing, and other industries, from plans to develop and distribute 3D printers to acting as a reseller in Europe, and more. What do you think of this news? Let us know your thoughts! Join the discussion of this and other 3D printing topics at 3DPrintBoard.com.

Ricoh headquarters (Photo: Ricoh)

[Source / Images: Ricoh]

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