Whereas attending The College of British Columbia (UBC), Tamer Mohamed, together with fellow graduate pupil Simon Beyer, started working on the Walus Laboratory on the event of a novel microfluidics-based bioprinting platform that might be used to manufacture human tissue constructs. One of many principal causes for his or her innovation was to probably exchange animal fashions in drug testing, that are pricey, time-consuming and may have poor predictive accuracy. A number of years glided by and the 2 went on to win a MEMSCAP Design Award for his or her pioneering creation (the Lab-on-a-Printer Bioprinter) which might later change into the idea for his or her startup, Side Biosystems. The UBC spinoff firm was based by Mohamed, Beyer, Konrad Walus (affiliate professor at UBC and head of the Walus Lab), and Sam Wadsworth, to show their thought right into a industrial product. The corporate rapidly started offering pharmaceutical firms with high-efficacy tissue fashions that higher mimic in vivo circumstances, seeking to enhance the predictive accuracy of the entrance finish drug discovery course of. 3DPrint.com spoke to Mohamed to study his profitable transition from graduate pupil to CEO of Side Biosystems.
What was the inspiration behind Side Biosystems?
Side Biosystems was established with the imaginative and prescient of leveraging developments in biology, microfluidics, and 3D printing to create technology-enabled therapeutics that may finally have a significant affect on sufferers. We’re marrying our deep information of human biology with cutting-edge 3D printing know-how to create. Our story began virtually a decade in the past so we’ve spent years creating our foundational microfluidic bioprinting know-how and are actually making use of our platform know-how to create purposeful tissues, each internally via our proprietary packages, and with our companions around the globe.
Are you able to inform me concerning the firm’s development mannequin?
Platform applied sciences usually have the benefit of flexibility, as they might will let you pursue a number of functions. This additionally presents a problem although, in that it’s straightforward to change into unfocused. At Side, we’ve constructed a method that enables us to each focus and diversify. Internally, we’re advancing proprietary tissue packages in regenerative medication. However we additionally acknowledge that to realize our imaginative and prescient of enabling human tissues on demand, we are able to’t work alone. By offering entry to our know-how to companions around the globe, we’re in a position to create a community impact and faucet into particular area experience. This permits our know-how to be utilized to a variety of analysis functions externally, with out detracting sources or focus from our particular tissue packages internally. We collaborate with academia and trade on particular functions that enable us to gasoline our development and assist generate income and a strong innovation pipeline.
How a lot has Side grown?
Side is the primary and solely firm to leverage microfluidics to create purposeful tissue, and we’re proud to pioneer this method. Academically, we had been one of many first teams on the planet to print cells whereas on the UBC, so we see ourselves as pioneers in each bioprinting and platforms for creating tissue therapeutics. 5 years in the past, we had 4 full-time staff. Immediately we’ve a workforce of over 40 individuals targeted on our mission and over 20 collaborations globally. We’ve got attracted sensible enterprise capital, partnered with among the largest names in our trade, and made main breakthroughs in making use of our know-how to create purposeful tissues. It’s a nice signal that, year-after-year, we proceed to boost the bar. It’s a fair higher signal that I imagine one of the best is but to come back.
What is going to the functions of this know-how be in pharmaceutical analysis and drug trials?
I imagine the chance with the best worth and greatest poised to make a major affect on the pharmaceutical area is illness modeling. Utilizing 3D bioprinting know-how permits us to mannequin ailments in a human-relevant system that will in any other case be troublesome to review in animals or much less subtle in vitro fashions. For instance, working with GSK and Merck, we’re leveraging our microfluidic 3D bioprinting platform to create physiologically-relevant 3D tissues containing patient-derived cells to evaluate the efficacy of anti-cancer medicine and to foretell a affected person’s response to remedy. This partnered program may unlock the invention of novel therapeutic targets and the event of immuno-oncology therapeutics.
Would you inform us extra about Side’s present and future work?
Our present inner packages are targeted on orthopedic and metabolic ailments. On the orthopedic aspect, we’re leveraging our deep information of musculoskeletal biology and biomaterials to create knee meniscal replacements. On the metabolic aspect, we’re targeted on liver tissue and making a therapeutic tissue for Kind 1 diabetes. Externally, our companions around the globe are utilizing our 3D bioprinting know-how to advance analysis within the mind, lungs, coronary heart, pancreas, and kidneys, simply to call a number of. By being each targeted internally and diversified externally, we’re constructing a strong pipeline for the long run. Our finish aim is to allow the creation of human tissues on demand, and we all know that we are able to’t do it alone. Our community of educational researchers and trade companions are key to creating our imaginative and prescient a actuality.
How briskly is the know-how shifting in the direction of a future with lab-made purposeful organs?
We’re targeted on figuring out particular ailments or organic malfunction contained in the physique and rationally designing superior tissue therapeutics that deal with these areas of unmet medical want. So, whereas we might not really be making one thing that appears precisely like an organ, we’re recreating the organic operate that has been misplaced or broken to deal with the issue. For instance, somebody with Kind 1 diabetes has a pancreas that’s unable to carry out the very important operate of making insulin. We don’t essentially must engineer one thing for them that appears precisely like a pancreas – as a substitute, we’re creating an implantable therapeutic tissue that replaces operate that has been misplaced. On this case, that operate is sensing glucose ranges within the blood and biologically releasing insulin in response. That is an instance of considered one of our inner packages – a bioengineered pancreatic tissue therapeutic that restores a vital operate that been misplaced as a consequence of an autoimmune illness.
Is Canada an ideal place to develop a bioprinting firm?
Canada has an extended and wealthy historical past within the discipline of regenerative medication, going again to the invention of stem cells within the 1960s. As a rustic, we’ve a possibility to be a world chief within the discipline. At Side, we’re proud to be a part of these efforts. We’re in ongoing discussions with completely different authorities teams as to how we are able to play a job in serving to to steer the cost and the federal government has been embracing that. We’ve got seen vital federal and provincial help for innovation and public/personal partnerships, which undoubtedly assist stimulate development within the discipline.
How disruptive is the know-how you created?
By combining microfluidics with 3D printing, we’re disrupting tissue engineering. We’re in a position to programmatically course of a number of cells and biologically-relevant supplies in high-throughput to rationally design and produce purposeful tissues. We’re consistently integrating new microfluidic processing items inside our printhead know-how and leveraging steady developments within the “lab-on-a-chip” area. With our microfluidic know-how, we’re producing a considerable amount of information. By utilizing this information and machine studying, we’re bettering the standard and automation of the biomanufacturing course of.
In the end, bioprinting is barely nearly as good as our understanding of biology – and our understanding of biology is rising wider and deeper. We’re combining state-of-the-art stem cell science with our microfluidic 3D printing know-how to create tissue therapeutics. For instance, we’re combining insulin-secreting cells derived from human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) with our printing know-how to create therapeutic tissues for sufferers with Kind 1 diabetes.
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