11 Companies Leading the 3D Bioprinting Space
Undoubtedly one of the most exciting areas within the 3D printing space is that of bioprinting. Using layer-by-layer fabrication methods, a number of companies are in the process of pushing forward a new paradigm shift within the medical implant, transplantation, and surgical spaces. While the media has mainly focused on Organovo, the company behind the world’s first 3D printable liver tissue, there are actually several other companies involved in this incredible space. Here are 3DPrint.com we thought it would be helpful to underline just a handful of those companies that may be about to change medicine as we know it.
3D Bioprinting Solutions
As Russia’s leading bioprinting firm, 3D Bioprinting Solutions aims to 3D print multiple human organs. In fact, they recently were successful in the fabrication of the first known mouse thyroid gland, which they have since implanted into a test subject (yes, another mouse). The company now has an incredibly ambitious timeline in which they seek to develop a 3D printed kidney by 2018. Their machine utilizes stem cells taken from a patient via their fat cells which are then mixed with hydrogels before being printed layer-by-layer. When the hydrogel dissolves, only the cells remain, forming tissue.
While not discussed in the headlines as often as Organovo, Cyfuse Biomedical is also working on a bioprinter they call Regenova. In fact, back in March Cyberdyne, a major player within the robotics space, invested into the company in order to push their Regenova technology forward. Using a method they call Kenzan, they are able to print three-dimensional cellular structures, such as human tissue, using cellular spheroids in fine needle arrays. Each spheroid contains thousands of cells, and once they are placed in a particular order next to other spheroids, they are cultured, leading to self-organization, and eventual tissue. The company has already raised $16.5 million, and can print biological components such as blood vessels, digestive and urinary organs, cartilage, tubular tissues, and even miniature livers.
This startup, which recently raised over $300,000 on equity crowdfunding platform FundersClub, is taking a different approach to the market. Instead of printing actual tissue samples and selling those to researchers, they are offering affordable desktop bioprinters to researchers, pharmaceutical companies and whoever else wants in on this incredible technology. While the printers themselves are priced fairly inexpensively at $25,000, it’s the specially formulated bio-inks, priced at $1,000 per 100ml, which will be the cash cow for BioBots in the long run. The company is able to use a special Blue Light technology to rapidly cure their biomaterials without damaging the cells within, and the machines support the printing of dozens of materials and cells at extremely high resolution.
Vancouver-based Aspect Biosystems recently completed a seed round of financing for an undisclosed amount of money. The company, founded in 2013 by CEO Konrad Walus, already is said to have a deal with a major pharmaceutical company, with yet another deal with a separate company in the works. Like Organovo, they too are looking towards the drug discovery markets for revenues, as they continue to push forward with development of their unique lab-on-a-printer technology.
The South Korean company, known for their line of desktop FFF/FDM 3D printers, more recently announced that they too would be entering the 3D bioprinting space via a $3 million government grant. Although the company is nowhere near as far along as some of these other companies we’ve mentioned, $3 million is nothing to sneeze about and neither are the groups that they are collaborating with on this project, which include the Korean Institute of Science and Technology (KIST), Seoul National University Bundang Hospital, Hanyang University, and Korea Institute of Machinery and Materials (KIMM). The project, which seeks to develop an in-situ 3D bioprinter by 2018, will initially concentrate on 3D printing human skin for burn victims and those with dermatological diseases.
The company, headquartered in San Diego, California, has been at the forefront of 3D bioprinting research for some time now. Not only are they currently bringing revenues in by providing pharmaceutical companies with their exVive3D™ Liver Tissue for drug toxicity testing, but they have partnered with major companies in the health space including L’Oréal and Merck, and are planning on introducing their exVive3D™ Kidney Tissue product by next year. With an ultimate goal of 3D printing patches made of human tissue for failing organs, and eventually entire organs for transplantation, Organovo certainly has their work cut out for them.
There are so many other companies out there making progress within the field of bioprinting. We have seen Nano3D printing breast cancer tissue for biological research, TeVido Biodevices working on printing human nipple tissue for breast reconstructive surgery, and 3Dynamic Systems looking to print a variety of human tissues including bone, skin and muscle. Additionally there are those companies that are really thinking outside the box, like Modern Meadow, which wants to biologically 3D print meat and leather products, and the Chinese company MedPrin, which is 3D printing dura mater for use in brain surgery.
We are living in exciting times, especially within the field of medicine, and the pace of innovation is only going to increase. It will be interesting to see which of these companies come out on top, and which fail to make it past the first mile of the bioprinting marathon, as the next several years come and go.