Prellis Biologics have just taken a big step on the path toward developing viable 3D-printed organs for humans.
The company, which was founded in 2016 by research scientists Melanie Matheu and Noelle Mullin, staked its future (and a small $3 million investment) on a new technology to manufacture capillaries, the one-cell-thick blood vessels that are the pathways which oxygen and nutrients move through to nourish tissues in the body.
Without functioning capillary structures, it is impossible to make organs, according to Matheu. They’re the most vital piece of the puzzle in the quest to print viable hearts, livers, kidneys and lungs, she said.
Now, Prellis has published findings indicating that it can manufacture those capillaries at a size and speed that would deliver 3D-printed organs to the market within the next five years.
Prellis uses holographic printing technology that creates three-dimensional layers deposited by a light-induced chemical reaction that happens in five milliseconds.
This feature, according to the company, is critical for building tissues like kidneys or lungs. Prellis achieves this by combining a light-sensitive photo-initiator with traditional bioinks that allows the cellular material to undergo a reaction when blasted with infrared light, which catalyzes the polymerization of the bioink.
Prellis’ organs will also need to be placed in a bioreactor to sustain them before they’re transplanted into an animal, but the difference is that the company aims to produce complete organs rather than sample tissue or a small cell sample, according to a statement. The bioreactors can simulate the biomechanical pressures that ensure an organ functions properly
More reading about this technology: https://www.prellisbiologics.co/prellis-literature