3D bioprinting enables the creation of functional human tissues on demand, and it is suitable for various applications in repairing the human body as well as orthogonal applications such as drug screening. Axolotl’s BrainPrint microsphere generator is a commercial scale and high-throughput microfluidic production system for drug-releasing microspheres necessary to produce bioink for 3D tissue bioprinting.
Two novel Axolotl Biosciences bioink formulations (TissuePrint and BrainPrint) generate reproducible and functional human tissues derived from stem cells. BrainPrint contains drug-encapsulated microspheres, maintains high levels of cellular viability post-printing, and promote cellular differentiation into stable, mature neural tissues similar to those found in the brain. They are cheaper and require less labour than traditional tissue engineering and other commercially available bioinks.
Axolotl Biosciences is a privately owned company that spun-off of a bio-printing-focused research group led by Dr. Stephanie Willerth at the University of Victoria.
Scaling up production of the drug-releasing microspheres while maintaining the required size and drug encapsulation efficiency of the microspheres needed microfluidics commercialization expertise. Major challenges for transfer to manufacturing were finding a chemically compatible material for the device and a suitable manufacturing technique.
With funding support from Next Generation Manufacturing Canada (NGen), Axolotl engaged StarFish Medical to implement high-throughput microfluidic processes for fabricating these drug-releasing microspheres based on prototypes developed in the Willerth and Elvira labs at the University of Victoria. The process included:
Beta testing and evaluation of BrainPrint bioink are coordinated by Axolotl working closely with StarFish Medical to adapt the preliminary device prototype into a design suitable for manufacturing larger quantities of the drug-releasing microspheres for commercial use.
In-house prototypes were designed by StarFish Medical using the SolidWorks platform and manufactured at StarFish Medical using a high-precision Computer Numerical Control (CNC) machine (MDA precision), and a BossLaser laser cutter for assembly.
Axolotl verified the prototypes and StarFish Medical developed high-level manufacturing transfer plans taking into consideration all risk factors associated with the manufacturing.
Designs were presented to microfluidics manufacturers and divided into categories based on low- and high- volume production then evaluated according to the manufacturing techniques and materials used by each manufacturer. This approach informed the supply chain management and resulted in timely resourcing.
Client: Axolotl Biosciences