Systemic Bio Opens Bioprinting Lab to Accelerate Drug Discovery

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3D Systems (NYSE: DDD) spinoff Systemic Bio opened a state-of-the-art laboratory to conduct research into hydrogel scaffold manufacturing and organ-on-a-chip as part of its mission to accelerate drug discovery and development. Since 2022, the biotech startup has been leveraging bioprinting technologies – including one capable of producing fully vascularized organ models – to target pharmaceutical R&D.

With the opening of a new 15,000 square feet facility, Systemic Bio hopes to usher in a new era of bioprinting. The lab is where engineers and scientists will continue developing and producing the company’s proprietary h-VIOS (human vascularized integrated organ systems) organ chips. In addition, an ISO 7 cleanroom will support the sterile production of thousands of h-VIOS chips and plates – an unprecedented capacity to support multiple contracts with pharmaceutical companies over the next 12 months.

In fact, Systemic Bio is already working to establish multi-year partnerships with pharma firms that could lead to the discovery of promising new drugs using its h-VIOS platform. Beyond providing organ-on-a-chip test samples and services, the startup has partnered with biotechnology companies interested in leveraging its hydrogel manufacturing capability to produce scaffolds for other applications.

h-VIOS2 containing two perfused vascularized hydrogels. Within this chip’s footprint, any vasculature can be created. Image courtesy of 3D Systems.

Located at the Texas Medical Center (TMC) campus in Houston – one of the largest medical complexes in the world – Systemic Bio’s new headquarters will be housed within TMC’s Innovation Factory Labs. TMC Innovation has supported over 200 companies from concept to scale-up, including Houston-based biofabrication startup Volumetric, which was acquired by 3D Systems in 2021 and absorbed into its regenerative medicine unit.

In over fifty years, the TMC has achieved national and international recognition in education, research, and patient care and is at the forefront of advancing life sciences. Home to the brightest minds in medicine, TMC nurtures cross-institutional collaboration, creativity, and innovation to push the limits of what’s possible in healthcare.

Commenting on Systemic Bio’s newest location is its CEO Taci Pereira: “The opening of this facility is a fantastic milestone in Systemic Bio’s journey to accelerate drug discovery and development and a leap forward for the field of bioprinting. With cutting-edge Print-to-Perfusion™ bioprinting technology from 3D Systems, our new cleanroom, and an exceptional team of scientists and engineers, we can now manufacture patterned sterile hydrogel scaffolds for commercial use with unprecedented precision, quality, and scalability. This marks a pivotal shift for bioprinting – going from experimental research to full-scale production. The h-VIOS platform is just the beginning of what we can unlock in the biotech industry with this new capability, and we look forward to continuing to partner with pharmaceutical and biotech companies to pursue these new opportunities.”

Thanks to its versatile organ-on-a-chip platform, the h-VIOS, the startup says it can recapitulate several organ and disease functions. Composed of vascularized hydrogel scaffolds, the h-VIOS platform enables the survival and function of healthy and diseased human cells, as well as the delivery of drugs to these cells in a more physiological manner. The establishment and further validation of these systems have the potential to significantly reduce both the high costs and extended times required for pharmaceutical companies to bring new drugs to market, states Systemic Bio.

With the establishment of the new center of excellence, Systemic Bio will enable the sterile and quality-controlled production of h-VIOS chips and plates to be used by its pharmaceutical partners in drug testing. To oversee these manufacturing operations, the company has hired seasoned biotech executive Jeremy Carter as Vice President of Operations.

A bioengineer, Carter’s last positions include director of technical operations at early cancer detection company Grail and supervisor of molecular testing at biotech Thermo Fisher Scientific, where his experience with Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-regulated biopharmaceutical production could be super helpful to an industry that is seeking a regulatory regime to govern bioprinting processes. In addition, his extensive experience is expected to help spearhead Systemic Bio’s production efforts.

Section of an h-VIOS32 plate containing an array of vascularized hydrogels with different architectures. Image courtesy of 3D Systems.

The launch of the new laboratory represents a significant expansion of Systemic Bio’s capacity and capability in the bioprinting sector. By encompassing its work within one of the most established medical ecosystems in the U.S., the startup will be able to evolve its cutting-edge technology and equipment like never before.

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