April 17, 2014

Oxford University spin-out OxSyBio has secured £1 million fund to develop a 3D printer to produce tissue-like synthetic materials for wound healing and drug delivery. In the longer term the company aims to print synthetic tissues for organ repair or replacement.

Isis Innovation, the University's research commercialisation company, has announced that OxSyBio has raised the fund from IP Group plc, the developer of intellectual property-based businesses, subject to the achievement of milestones. The new company will refine and advance the 3D droplet printing technology devised by Professor Hagan Bayley's group at the University's Department of Chemistry.

Prototype droplet network printer built by Oxford scientists. Photo: OU/G Villar

The technique involves printing synthetic tissue-like materials from thousands of tiny water droplets each coated in a thin film mimicking a living cell's external membrane, and studding these membranes with protein pores so they act like simplified cells.

Prof Bayley said:"We have been able to print networks of droplets through which electrical impulses can be transmitted in a manner similar to the way cells in the nervous system communicate: the signal moves rapidly and in a specific direction.

"We also aim to integrate printed tissue-like materials with living tissues, and to print materials that themselves contain living cells.

"Our long-term goal is to develop a synthetic-tissue printer that a surgeon can use in the operating theatre. In 10 years' time, the use of pieces of synthetic tissue will be commonplace. The fabrication of complex synthetic organs is a more distant prospect."

"This is the type of technology where science fiction can become science fact," commented Tom Hockaday, Managing Director of Isis Innovation.

Droplet network c.500 microns across with electrically conductive pathway between electrodes mimicking nerve [credit: Oxford University/G Villar]

Sequence showing droplet network folding into hollow ball c.400 microns across [credit: Oxford University/G Villar]

Printed droplet networks c.500 microns across [Credit: Oxford University/A Graham]

Posted in 3D Printing Technology

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