Jul 4, 2018 | By Thomas

A 3D BioFabrication Facility (BFF) developed by nScrypt and Techshot and designed to 3D print thick tissue and organs using adult stem cells will launch to the International Space Station (ISS) aboard the next SpaceX cargo resupply mission.

Rendering of the BFF in an EXPRESS rack (Credit: nScrypt)

Expected to launch in February 2019, SpaceX CRS-17 will carry nScrypt 3D Bio Assembly Tool(BAT) and Techshot's ADVanced Space Experiment Processor(ADSEP).

Two years ago NASA contractor Techshot and 3D bioprinter developers nScrypt successfully 3D printed cardiac and vascular structures in a zero gravity environment using actual adult human stem cells. The goal was to develop commercial 3D printers that can be used to manufacture transplantable organs in space – both for patients in space and back on earth.

Though that will obviously take some time, this initial test was very promising. After that, the two companies began work on the 3D BioFabrication Facility, or BFF, which is dedicated to manufacturing human organs and tissues in space, primarily for use by patients on Earth.

From a purely financial perspective, organs made by the Techshot BFF are expected to cost less than the full set of costs that are typical for a patient who suffers from a chronic disease state that today requires a lifetime of drug therapies and potentially, multiple transplants.

As the researchers revealed, their success all depends on the 3D printer’s ability to create very fine layers of bio-inks. 3D printing at layers several times thinner than a human hair, the 3D bioprinter by nScrypt performed admirably. “It’s like drawing with a fine-point pen rather than a crayon,” said nScrypt Chairman and CEO Kenneth Church, Ph.D. “Some of the tips on our 3D electronics printers are nearly as small as a single human cell.”

The nScrypt BAT 3D printer uses patented SmartPump, which was designed to handle extreme material variances. SmartPump technology was developed to produce flow rates that can be more precisely controlled - it features discrete volumetric control down to 100 picoliters and can operate with nozzles as small as 10 microns. This maintains a consistent material flow rate and could handle an extreme range of material viscosities, which is necessary for printing the fine details of a healthy organ.

“Especially when dealing with something as important as tissue, it is vital to place the correct amount of material in the correct position every time,” said nScrypt CEO Ken Church. “This is what our machines offer and what has contributed to our success in bioprinting as well as other applications. This is an exciting time for discovery and more importantly a time of impact for those that are seriously seeking solutions to grow thick vascularized tissue, which is the basis for a fully printed organ.”

Once installed on the ISS,  BFF will be used to 3D print a cardiac patch for damaged hearts. Cells will be printed into the bioreactor cassette, and the bioreactor will then provide media perfusion to deliver nutrients and remove toxins from the tissue, keeping it alive while also providing electrical and mechanical stimulus to encourage the cells to become beating heart tissue.

Besides printing tissue, BFF also can help maintain the health of deep space exploration crews by producing food and personalized pharmaceuticals on demand. “We are very excited to see this project, and all that it can provide, come to life,” said Techshot President and CEO John C. Vellinger. “With the goal of producing everything from organs, to pharmaceuticals, to perhaps even food, the BFF has the ability to improve the lives of people on earth and help enable deep space exploration.”



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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