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3-D Organ Printing Company Gains Seed Funds

Prellis Biologics co-founders

Prellis Biologics co-founders Noelle Mullin, left, and Melanie Matheu (Prellis Biologics Inc.)

15 September 2017. A start-up enterprise seeking to create replacement human tissue and organs with three-dimensional printing is raising $1.8 million in seed capital. Prellis Biologics Inc., a one year-old company in San Francisco, plans to produce human tissue and organs with 3-D printing using its own process for which patents are pending.

The company’s two founders are bringing expertise in tissue engineering and stem cell biology to Prellis Biologics. Melanie Matheu, the company’s CEO, received a Ph.D. in physiology and biophysics at University of California in Irvine, and later completed a postdoctoral fellowship at University of California in San Francisco. In her doctoral research, Matheu studied the laser-based imaging processes underlying the company’s technology, including the application of those processes to print the fine blood vessels, called microvasculature, permeating human tissue and organs.

Noelle Mullin, chief scientist at Prellis, received her Ph.D. at UC-San Francisco and later served as a postdoctoral researcher at UC-San Francisco and Stanford University, where she studied stem cell biology related to breast and skin cancers. Her work underpins the company’s plan to develop 3-D tissue scaffolding that recreates a supportive environment for stem cells making it possible rapid, large-scale production of vascularized tissue and organs.

The founders say their technology can overcome many of the obstacles that so far prevent 3-D printing from producing human tissue, particularly speed and high resolution. According to the company, Prellis is already producing prototypes of microvasculature and organoids, miniature and simplified organs.

The process, says the company, uses lasers to put down fine layers of extracellular matrix, secretions from cells that provide structural and biochemical support, already containing cells at near instantaneous speeds. Unlike most current tissue engineering methods, the Prellis process, according to the company, does not require previous cell seeding or additional culturing to produce tissue matrix.

Prellis Biologics currently resides at IndieBio, a start-up incubator for bioscience enterprises in San Francisco that provides initial funding of $250,000 plus 4 months of training and mentorship. The company first plans to produce human tissue samples for drug testing, and later tissues for transplant, including connective tissue like tendons and ligaments, and organs. “We believe our technology,” says Matheu in a company statement, “will jump-start the practical use of lab-printed tissue for life-saving drug development, rapid development of human antibodies, and production of human organs for transplant.”

The company’s new seed funding of $1.8 million is led by venture investor True Ventures in Palo Alto, California, with participation by Civilization Ventures, 415 Ventures, and other angel investors.

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