Navigating through an evolving biotech landscape, Essent Biologics is carving a niche with its focus on supporting those developing innovative therapies and its commitment to alternatives to traditional drug testing methodologies. A crucial part of their mission involves collaborating with companies employing advanced 3D bioprinting techniques and contributing to the ongoing movement toward animal-free drug testing.
Born from AlloSource, a prominent manufacturer of fresh cartilage tissue for joint repair and skin allografts for treating severe burns, Essent Biologics uses human tissue donation. By providing low-passaged primary cell lines, origin tissue, scaffolds, and vital donor data, they’re propelling translational research from the laboratory to the patient’s bedside.
“Essent Biologics can serve as a biomanufacturing partner, creating a significant inventory of custom products,” explains Corey Stone, executive director at Essent Biologics. “Our goal is to advance human biology research, fast-track drug discovery and development, and eliminate animal testing.”
Essent Biologics’ initiatives are making significant strides within the biomedical industry. The company is developing a series of promising biomaterial products like scaffolds and primary cells for tissue engineering applications such as bioprinting and electrospinning. Last December, the company unveiled its Micronized Bone Matrix (MBM) for 3D bioprinting and tissue engineering. Created from human bone, MBM offers an animal product-free solution for researchers in the growing field of bone tissue engineering and is expected to boost advancements in the characterization and engineering of human bone, complementing their other offerings like the Spectral DBM product (a particular type of bone material designed to encourage bone growth targeted to 3D bioprinting and creating tissue in the lab).
Additionally, Essent Biologics is involved in innovative therapies, such as immunotherapy for solid tumors. It is also partnering with companies and academic institutions to conduct research into potential treatments for autoimmune and infectious diseases. For instance, scientists at the National University of Singapore Centre for Cancer Research (N2CR) used stem cell precision engineering technology to treat cancer-stricken canines. In the study, stem cells were modified to seek out tumors and deliver a potent “kill-switch” that produces a high, localized concentration of a cancer-killing drug, improving understanding of cancer treatments and potentially benefiting both canine and human patients.
In addition to their in-house endeavors, Essent Biologics has forged partnerships with esteemed institutions such as several branches of Colorado State University, John Hopkins University, and the University of Illinois. These collaborations have led to the development of novel platforms for preventing infectious diseases, treating cancer, autoimmune diseases, neurological diseases, and metabolic diseases.
“Essent Biologics has proved to be a willing and capable industry partner,” says Atala. “With its unique access to human tissue, diverse product offerings, and CDMO capabilities, Essent shows great promise to help advance the field of regenerative medicine.”
Essent Biologics is contributing to shifts in biotechnology, positioning itself as a participant in the future of drug development. Their work in human tissue-derived research and providing alternatives to animal testing aligns with ongoing changes in the field, reflecting an evolving landscape in biotechnology.
This evolution is happening against a backdrop of ongoing changes in the regulatory environment. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has been promoting the development and use of alternative methods for testing and developing new products over the years. These include the 3Rs (Replacement, Reduction, Refinement) principle, advocating for more ethical use of animals in scientific research. As part of the FDA Modernization Act, the industry is being pushed to seek alternatives to animal testing.
As part of its mission, Essent Biologics continues positioning itself at the forefront of this transition, aligning well with the evolving FDA guidelines. They have demonstrated a readiness to offer viable solutions for companies eager to embrace this paradigm shift. By doing so, they form a part of the industry’s response to these regulatory changes and the increasing societal and scientific calls for animal-free testing methods.
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