Medical & Dental

OxSyBio high resolution tissue 3D bioprinting raises £10m in funding

OxSyBio, a 3D bioprinting spinout company of the University of Oxford, has raised £10 million (approx. $14 million USD) in Series A financing.

The money, according to company founder and director Professor Hagan Bayley, “provides the long-term capital required to deliver our ambition of building affordable tissues for patients.”

Part of Professor Bayley’s vision for the company is to one day provide 3D bioprinters that can be used for tissue transplants in the operating room.

Since its official launch in 2014, the company has already had some significant breakthroughs with the technology, including the development of its first real world product.

The 3D droplet bioprinter, developed by the University of Oxford and the University of Bristol. Photo by Sam Olof
OxSyBio’s 3D droplet bioprinter with penny for scale. Photo by Sam Olof

Tissue 3D printing in the operating theater

In 2014, OxSyBio (Oxford Synthetic Biology) launched with £1 million seed funding from IP Group plc, a developer of intellectual property based businesses. At seed stage, Professor Bayley shared his vision for the company, stating “Our long-term goal is to develop a synthetic-tissue printer that a surgeon can use in the operating theatre,”

“In ten years’ time, the use of pieces of synthetic tissue will be commonplace. The fabrication of complex synthetic organs is a more distant prospect.”

Following that, the recent venture capital financing in Series A was led by Woodford Investment Management. This first round saw the further investment of IP Group plc, and the participation of Parkwalk Advisors Ltd.

According to Moray Wright, CEO at Parkwalk Advisors, “The 3D printing of tissues from living cells in high-throughput formats is already proving interesting to academic and pharmaceutical research teams, with massive potential impact right across the board,”

“The concept of artificial cells has had a long history, but with OxSyBio’s platform technology, the concept is becoming a reality.”

High resolution 3D bioprinting made possible

OxSyBio’s 3D bioprinting technology is an innovative droplet-based approach. In place of post introduction to a 3D printed scaffold, live cells are encapsulated within a bioink. The technique therefore avoids the complication of removing the sacrificial scaffold post-printing. Droplet deposition also affords the technology unparalleled resolution.

A report written by Bayley et al. in collaboration with the University of Bristol, demonstrates how OxSyBio’s 3D bioprinter is capable of 3D printing tissues at a competitive scale below 200 microns. Furthermore, 90% of human embryonic kidney cells used in the experiment remained viable when cultured, and differentiated into a form of cartilage.

Professor Bayley concludes, “The company has already made important strides in translating this technology into a real world product, and we look forward to continuing our close research collaboration.”

Figure demonstrating the droplet-based 3D printing technique (a, b, d) and the tissue-like density of the bioprinted cells (c, e, f). Image via Scientific Reports
Figure demonstrating OxSyBio’s droplet-based 3D printing technique (a, b, d) and the tissue-like density of the bioprinted cells (c, e, f). Image via Scientific Reports

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Featured image shows Oxford and Bristol’s droplet based 3D bioprinter. Photo by Alexander Graham