CELLINK partners with Made In Space for microgravity 3D bioprinting

Swedish 3D bioprinter manufacturer CELLINK has announced a strategic collaboration with microgravity manufacturing specialist Made In Space.

The aim of the collaboration is to identify 3D bioprinting development opportunities for the International Space Station (ISS) and future off-world platforms. The outcome of such projects is expected to have a real-world impact on drug screening and cancer research on Earth.

“CELLINK supports space programs in the United States with our deep commitment to cutting-edge innovation, extensive portfolio of technologies and world-class team of scientists and engineers,” comments Erik Gatenholm, co-founder and CEO of CELLINK,

“We are excited to partner with Made In Space to refine bioprinting technologies that can support and enhance future missions in spaceflight and space exploration.”

The future of regenerative medicine

CELLINK develops and sells a range of 3D bioprinters, including the dual-extrusion INKREDIBLE system, the tri-nozzle BIO X, and the SLA-based Holograph X developed by San Francisco biotechnology company Prellis Biologics. With this range, the company provides laboratories worldwide with a tool for the creation of 3D cell cultures, applied to drug testing and rudimentary tissue engineering experiments. Its recent work includes a partnership with French regenerative medicine research and development company CTI BIOTECH which is using CELLINK systems to create tumorous tissue models for the investigation of new cancer treatments. The company also has machine-supply partnerships with various academic institutions including the University of Gothenburg, Rice University’s Biomaterials Lab, and Harvard Medical School.

A microscopic 3D printed structure for encapsulating cells. Image via Prellis Biologics
A microscopic structure for encapsulating cells made via Prellis holographic 3D bioprinting. Image via Prellis Biologics

Working the Swedish National Space Agency and Uppsala University CELLINK has also launched 3D bioprinted stem cells on a suborbital flight. Onboard the MASER 14 vehicle in June 2019, these cells are currently being investigated with regard to their viability, proliferation, differentiation and functional properties against a set of the same cells back on Earth.

3D bioprinting in space

CELLINK’s partnership with Made In Space marks the company’s full commitment to 3D bioprinting for microgravity conditions, contributing to a growing knowledge collective aboard the ISS.

Russia’s 3D Bioprinting Solutions sent its 3D bioprinter, the Organ-Avt, to the ISS in December 2018. The 3D BioFabrication Facility (BFF) from nScrypt and Techshot also made its ISS debut in July this year. Earlier in 2019, the European Space Agency (ESA) and University Hospital of Dresden Technical University (TUD) also proved the ability to 3D print biological matter in a space-like environment.

Made In Space, for its part, has had an extrusion-based 3D printer (the Additive Manufacturing Facility or AMF) aboard the ISS since 2014.

The original Made In Space Additive Manufacturing Facility (AMF) now aboard the ISS. Photo via Made In Space
The original Made In Space Additive Manufacturing Facility (AMF) now aboard the ISS. Photo via Made In Space

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Featured image shows 3D bioprinting at RIT using the CELLINK BIO X system. Clip via RIT