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Companies Partner on High-Resolution 3-D Tissue Printer

Holograph-X bioprinter

Holograph-X bioprinter (Cellink)

10 Dec. 2018. Two developers of tissue engineering technologies are building a three-dimensional bioprinter that produces high resolution, finely structured human tissue, including tiny blood vessels. Financial details of the collaboration between Cellink in Gothenburg, Sweden and Prellis Biologics in San Francisco were not disclosed.

Under their agreement, Cellink plans to adapt and commercialize the Prellis Biologics technology for 3-D printing extracellular matrix, the structural component of human cells, and tiny blood vessels, or capillaries. The companies plan to market its first product, the Holograph-X bioprinter, in early 2019.

The Prellis technology uses laser holograms that 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. As a result, it achieves high printing speeds, which are critical for tissue production since densely packed cells will die in less than 30 minutes unless oxygen and nutrients can be supplied immediately with blood carried through capillaries.

The company says its process also lends itself to cell encapsulation, down to the level of single cells. Prellis says it can produce encapsulated single cells in less than 5 milliseconds, and produce many cells simultaneously to increase production speeds. In addition, the company uses far-red lasers in its process that do not harm the cells during production of tissue. Prellis says it achieves high resolution as well, producing capillaries as small as 5 to 10 microns in diameter; 1 micron equals 1 millionth of a meter.

Cellink’s main business is bioprinting inks, but is also an integrator of 3-D bioprinting technologies. Cellink’s bioinks are made from a synthesized form of fibrin, a protein in blood that combines with platelets to coagulate and stop bleeding. The company extends fibrin’s capabilities into bioinks for producing a wide range of human tissue such as skin, bone, and cartilage, as well as tissue in organs including brain, kidney, liver, and intestines. The company also has inks for producing stem cells.

Cellink and Prellis Biologics are developing the Holograph-X printer for producing human tissue with blood vessels in place. The companies say the system can support tissue production 10 times the size of other technologies, including samples for drug screening and transplantation. The Holograph-X can print from a computer-assisted design, or CAD, file, enabling researchers or clinicians to first prepare a detailed map for the printer. The companies expect to price the system at $1.2 million.

Both Cellink and Prellis were founded in 2016. Prellis, as reported by Science & Enterprise, is a spin-off enterprise from University of California in San Francisco, which in September 2017 gained $1.8 million in seed funding. “We believe in the democratization of science,” says Prellis’s founder and CEO Melanie Matheu, in a joint statement. “Putting this technology into the hands of dedicated researchers is the fastest path to bring scientific advancements to the field and solutions to real people.”

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