Australian 3D bioprinting specialist Inventia Life Science has announced the closure of a Series B funding round that has seen it raise $25 million (USD).
Led by Blackbird Ventures and supported by long-term backer Skip Capital, the investment takes the firm’s total raised up to $32 million. Using its newfound capital, Inventia Life Science intends to ramp up the roll-out of its RASTRUM 3D bioprinter, particularly in the U.S, where it believes the system could address a biomedical R&D and drug discovery market that it estimates to be worth over $40 billion.
“This new round of financing is a very significant milestone for Inventia,” said Dr. Julio Ribeiro, CEO of Inventia Life Science. “The funds will enable us to scale up and take full advantage of the increasing global interest in such things as new approaches to cancer research, and the development and validation of new drugs.”
‘Digital Bioprinting’ technology
Based in suburban Sydney, Inventia Life Science specializes in building systems capable of creating realistic 3D human tissues for drug and therapy research applications. Describing itself as a ‘realist,’ the company says there has been “a lot of hype around 3D bioprinting,” but it’s “not chasing pipe dreams about printed organs,” and is instead seeking to ‘digitize’ the technology, to make it scalable.
Inventia Life Science’s bioprinting approach effectively revolves around its ability to rapidly deposit tiny droplets of cells and matrices with high accuracy, in a way that doesn’t affect their viability. Largely, the firm has been able to achieve this due to its unique bio-inks, which combine on contact without needing thermal stimuli, turning them into ‘matrix building blocks’ that can be built into configurable tissues.
Using this ‘Digital Bioprinting’ technology as a base, the company has managed to develop its first 3D bioprinter: the RASTRUM. Designed to act as a simple lab-based cell-culturing platform, the machine is compatible with standard well plates, and comes programmed with pre-set matrices and 3D models, allowing users to get printing without having to waste time on configuration or hydrogel engineering.
To help users drive down their cellular research time even further, the RASTRUM is also highly-automated, and features mechanized cleaning and sterilization as well as an auto-generated protocol, which according to Inventia Life Science, makes it “incredibly easy” for users to “create 3D cell models efficiently and reproducibly.”
Inventia’s business-culturing plans
Following the closure of its funding round, Inventia Life Science now says that it’s seeking to “market its RASTRUM 3D cell culture platform worldwide,” with a particular focus on the U.S. In order to achieve this, the firm has unveiled plans to expand its team from 36 to 150 staff by the end of 2024, and hired Dr. Dwayne Dexter as its new Director of U.S. Sales.
Having held a senior role at organ-on-a-chip provider Mimetas, the company is said to view Dexter as being vital to growing its pharma and academic base in the U.S. and Canada. Already, Inventia Life Science counts three ‘leading U.S. pharma companies’ as clients, and having installed its first system last year, it now aims to expedite this roll-out and “democratize access to affordable biomedical research.”
“We are thrilled to help accelerate the adoption globally of Inventia’s unique 3D cell culture platform,” added Niki Scevak, a Partner at Blackbird Ventures. “It’s a technology that improves cancer and other cellular research in a fundamental way, and the benefits of this will reshape many biomedical industries, in particular the pharmaceutical industry.”
“Our financial support of Inventia reflects our firm belief that there is a broad-based and urgent need in the biomedical world for what the company has developed.”
Advances in 3D cellular growth
Though viable 3D bioprinted organs still remain some way off, the technology is increasingly finding applications in the creation of artificial tissues with drug-testing potential. Just last month, CTIBIOTECH unveiled a new 3D bioprinting platform capable of producing low-cost reproducible colon cancer disease models for chemotherapeutic screening.
As one of the leaders in the emerging 3D bioprinting sector, CELLINK has also invested in expanding its cell-culturing capabilities. As part of its ‘bioconvergence’ strategy, the firm bought an in-vitro specialist in the MatTek Corporation earlier in 2021, with the aim of developing drug evaluation tissues that remove the need for animal testing. Both companies are now under the wider BICO umbrella.
Elsewhere, South Korean pharma firm HK inno.N announced plans to work with T&R Biofab last August to 3D bioprint human tissues for the testing of autoimmune and skin disorder drugs. Through their research, which has seen both companies assess the efficacy of multiple medications, they too seek to develop an alternative to animal testing for use within the medical and cosmetics industries.
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Featured image shows a scientist using Inventia Life Science’s RASTRUM 3D bioprinter. Image via Inventia Life Science.