An Oxford-based company is developing 3D printing techniques to produce tissue-like materials for future organ replacement.
OxSyBio, an Oxford University spin-out, has raised £1m to advance the so-called 3D droplet printing technology – a method created by Oxford University’s Professor Hagan Bayley and his group.
The method enables printing synthetic tissue-like materials from tiny water droplets coated with a thin film mimicking external membranes of living cells.
“We have been able to print networks of droplets through which electrical impulses can be transmitted in a manner similar to the way cells in the nervous system communicate,” said Professor Hagan Bayley. “The signal moves rapidly and in a specific direction. We also aim to integrate printed tissue-like materials with living tissues, and to print materials that themselves contain living cells.”
In the first stage, the team behind the project, featured last year on the cover of the Science journal, wants to use the 3D-printed tissue to produce wound-healing materials. Eventually, the company would like to 3D print entire organs or parts for organ repair.
“Our long-term goal is to develop a synthetic-tissue printer that a surgeon can use in the operating theatre,” said Prof Bayley. “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.”
The £1m funding was awarded to the newly established OxSyBio by the IP Group, a developer of intellectual property-based businesses.
“Synthetic biology and regenerative medicine will be central to the development of healthcare in the 21st Century and IP Group is pleased to support OxSyBio as it seeks to develop products that will help to realise the potential of these exciting and growing areas,” said IP Group’s chief executive officer Alan Aubrey.