The 3D bioprinting space is heating up. As companies like Organovo rapidly develop new forms of printable human tissue and bring those tissues to market, other smaller companies are joining in with their own research and development within the space. Last month we announced that BioBots, a desktop bioprinter manufacturer, would seek equity funding via the crowd, while today we got word that Vancouver-based Aspect Biosystems has received seed funding to expand upon their human tissue printing initiatives.
Aspect Biosystems, founded in 2013, eventually hopes to 3D print entire human organs, but like Organovo, they too are starting out small. Currently the company is developing 3D printed human tissue specifically for the testing of drugs by pharmaceutical companies. Their immediate goal is to “improve the predictive accuracy of the pre-clinical drug discovery process,” while longer term goals include the abolishment of animal testing, as well as the creation of lifesaving human organs.
Obviously their work is cut out for them, as they push forward with these initiatives, and funding is incredibly important. This week, they’ve received their first round of seed funding, which the company says will support the continued development of their next generation 3D bioprinting technology, as well as help them commercialize their services and products.
“We are very impressed with Aspect’s breakthrough approach to 3D bioprinting and we believe that the company holds great potential for delivering highly advanced structured tissues in the near term,” Todd Farrell, President, UBC Seed Fund.
Walus also went on to divulge some additional developments to us, including a recent deal with a major pharmaceutical giant (who will go unnamed at this time) and that they are about to sign a second deal with the same company, related to Aspect’s 3DAirwayALI(TM) human airway tissue.
“Aspect Biosystems technology is positioned to have a major impact on multiple markets including preclinical drug development, personalized, cosmetic, and regenerative medicine,” Walus explained to us. “We see key developments emerging over the next couple years that will really start to demonstrate the potential of 3D bioprinting in the commercial space.”
Over the next year, the company looks to expand their customer base as well as partner with others within the industry. They will also be releasing new data on additional models that are currently under development.
“3D bioprinting is benefitting from the very rapid advancements in cell biology, and generally tissue engineering of various important tissue components, for example barrier tissues and vascularization,” Walus continued. “As a result, we expect rapid development of new features in 3D printed tissues and increasing physiological relevance. Aspect Biosystems’ unique lab-on-a-printer technology is really a paradigm shift in 3D bioprinting and enables us to realize structures not possible with other systems”
Competition is good for any industry as it drives down prices, increases R&D, and speeds the development of technologies. Aspect Biosystems seems to be the real deal and I have a feeling we will be hearing a lot about them over the next year or two.
Let us know your thoughts on the company’s recent round of funding, and what it could mean for the bioprinting space in general. Discuss in the Aspect Biosystems forum thread on 3DPB.com.