Following in the – very successful – footsteps of its sister companies GE Additive, GE Aerospace, and GE Oil and Gas, now GE Healthcare is starting to seriously look at 3D printing. After signing with Formlabs to streamline 3D printing of anatomical models, the giant is now partnering with Advanced Solutions Life Sciences (ASLS) to advance the field of 3D biofabrication.
And if GE Healthcare is moving fast, bioprinting is not going any slower. It may be the positive momentum from the latest Termis (the leading regenerative medicine event) in Orlando, or maybe 3dpbm is just in the right place at the right time, but 3D Bioprinting Solutions has also been making some giant leaps recently. Now Advanced Solutions Life Sciences, the company founded by Michal Golway, one of the first pioneers in bioprinting, is going to benefit from GE’s powerful distribution and R&D means.
As per the agreement, GE Healthcare will distribute the world’s first integrated 3D bioprinter + confocal scanner (BioAssemblyBot + GE IN Cell Analyzer 6500HS) as part of a strategic R&D and distribution partnership that sets out to personalize tissue regeneration. The integration of IN Cell Analyzer and BioAssemblyBot systems technologies will embed cellular-level assessments into the 3D bioprinting workflow used to create human tissue models.
Bioprinted tissues are small in size and die quickly, due to an inability to engineer small blood vessels – the body’s supply network. ASLS’ patented Angiomics technology enables bioprinted microvessels to self-assemble into functional capillary beds, which deliver nutrients, oxygen, and hormones to the 3D tissue model and remove waste. This partnership would allow life scientists and tissue engineers to quickly design, build and image living, vascularized 3D tissues in a single, agile process.
“Printing multi-material 3D objects inside of microwell plates allows scientists to efficiently move away from traditional 2D monocultures on plastic, to 3D discovery and cytotoxicity models that more accurately reflect native biology and disease,” said Emmanuel Abate, General Manager of Genomics & Cellular Research, GE Healthcare Life Sciences. “By combining this flexibility and precision of the BioAssemblyBot with the image quality and speed of the IN Cell Analyzer 6500 HS confocal screening platform, the prospect of automating high content screening in 3D models can become a reality.”
Currently, biopharmaceutical companies test their drugs in 2D models and animal models. Precise 3D models provide a more physiologically relevant environment for drug testing because they mimic human reactions. “The power of both of these platforms brings a new level of efficiency, speed and quality with assay designs and 3D biofabrication,” said Michael Golway, President & CEO of ASLS.
Traditional 3D bioprinters are not designed for quality or interoperability with the high-throughput screening methods that pharmaceutical developers use to identify drug candidates. This alliance will result in a new product to address this challenge: an integration of GE Healthcare Life Sciences’ IN Cell Analyzer confocal imaging platform with IN Carta cell analysis software, and ASLS’ BioAssemblyBot 3D bioprinter with TSIM design software.
For pharmaceutical companies, where the average time to develop a new drug candidate may take over seven years, moving from traditional stage-gate testing processes to a lean, agile workcell for 3D tissue fabrication and assessments will shorten development timelines. The integration between IN Cell Analyzer and BioAssemblyBot enables the automated inclusion of cellular imaging information into the tissue modeling process so that new therapies can be scaled more quickly and effectively.