The International Stem Cell Corporation (ISCO) (OTCQB:ISCO), a clinical stage biotechnology company based in California, has announced the development of a new 3D bioprinter that produces liver tissue.
The technology is suited to the liver progenitor cell (LPC) line, adding to ISCO’s existing pipeline of products including ISC-hpNSC for brain treatments, and ChondraStem to treat osteoarthritis.
ISC-hpNSC’s therapeutic use for Parkinson’s Disease is in Phase I clinical trails, making it ISCO’s closest line to market. Liver cells, by comparison, are still in the basic research stage, meaning 3D bioprinting could prove invaluable to progress.
From the first true stem cell bank
The LPCs used in ISCO’s liver 3D bioprinter are generated by the firm’s proprietary parthenogenesis technology – a process ISCO is using to build what it calls “the first true stem cell bank, UniStemCell™.”
Parthenogensis creates a sample of stem cells from unfertilized egg cells called oocytes, bypassing ethical issues surrounding the use of cells from viable human embryos. Furthermore, the cells produced carry none of the genetic diseases that can be gained from other methods, and, as is evident from ISCO’s product pipeline, can develop into a variety of cell types for widespread use in the body.
Russell Kern, Executive Vice President and Chief Scientific Officer of ISCO, comments, “We have already developed a master cell bank of the liver progenitor cells and, we are proceeding to test safety and efficacy of the cells in various models of liver diseases like liver cirrhosis and fibrosis.”
Therapy and drug and screening
In a statement on the announcement Kern also detailed some of the potential applications for the firm’s new 3D liver technology, citing an ability “to replace damaged tissue to restore liver functions,” and use “in drug discovery as a model for drug screening,” i.e. organ-on-a-chip devices.
In this relatively young market developing technology for a specific purpose, such as 3D bioprinting the liver, could be key to ISCO’s success as many machines on the market run the risk of spreading their possibilities too thinly.
Revotek is one example of another company specializing in 3D bioprinting for specific organic structures. In a project funded by the Chinese government, the Revotek-T series blood vessel 3D bioprinter made a vein segment that was successfully implanted into the abdomens of 30 macaque monkeys.
Featured image shows the “Cells for Research and Therapy” slogan form the International Stem Cell Corporation homepage. Image via International Stem Cell Corporation