We have not talked about bioprinting recently. There is a big difference between a 3D printed heart and a 3D printed steak. A 3D printed heart would be used to help someone who is sick. A 3D printed steak would not help anyone (arguably).
Bioprinting is not just for printing large transplantable organs. The precision of the CNC guided bioprinting tool head can deliver different types of materials to create other biological systems.
Prellis Biologics recently released a press release about how they have been using 3D printing to create lymph nodes.
Prellis Biologics used to experiment with 3D printed organoids (such as kidneys), but they have since shifted their focus to smaller organoids, such as lymph nodes. Lymph nodes are a very important part of the human immune system.
The Prellis Biologics platform "EXIS" (Externalized Immune System) uses the company's proprietary bioprinting technology to create synthetic lymph nodes. These nodes are populated with human immune cells, which can be tested with vaccines to see how the immune cells produce antibodies.
“EXIS is an ultra-fast, animal-free platform for raising human antibodies to human proteins,” said Kevin Chapman, CSO. “In a matter of a few months, the team has been able to generate a state of the art human antibody libraries against a whole host of immune-oncology targets. We are extremely excited to extend the system to human immunogenicity testing, and patient antibody mining.”
Prellis uses a printing system that cures objects with a laser. This is similar to how photopolymer printing works. The difference is that Prellis can accurately replicate human organ and tissue structures for research and eventual transplantation.
The EXIS platform was used by Prellis Biologics to produce 960 synthetic human lymph nodes for testing COVID-like vaccines. The work was a success with the company announcing that their method had produced over 300 virus-specific antibodies. That's apparently a lot.
“Three hundred virus-specific IgG antibodies is a tremendous number to have at this stage,’ said Erin Stephens, PhD and Director of Tissue Engineering at Prellis.
”Our pipeline for class-switched antibodies has produced an order of magnitude larger pool than the typical antibody development program.”
Printed consumer-grade lymph nodes are not likely to be available to the public soon. However, the little organoids are being used in virus research. The company's $14.5 Million Series B Investment will keep things active in that area for a while.