Building a Better 3D Bioprinter: GE Healthcare and ASLS Combine Tech

Xconomy Boston — 

GE Healthcare Life Sciences and ASLS have teamed up to offer a new platform that can design, build, and image living 3D tissue models for drug discovery and development.

ASLS, Advanced Solutions Life Sciences, is a subsidiary of Advanced Solutions headquartered in Louisville, KY. Its patented Angiomics technology enables users to create 3D tissue models with functional capillary beds—a network of micro-blood vessels that removes waste and delivers nutrients, oxygen, and hormones to keep the tissue models “alive.”

Under a recently established strategic R&D and distribution partnership, ASLS will combine its BioAssemblyBot 3D bioprinter and design software with GE Healthcare Life Sciences’ IN Cell Analyzer imaging platform and cell analysis software.

“In a single platform, the BioAssemblyBot integrated with the GE IN Cell 6500HS scanner prints, assays, and analyzes 3D tissues and tissue models used for drug discovery and screening,” explains Derek Mathers, director, ASLS.

“The platform enables users to customize assay workflows specific to their needs, providing up to 20x higher throughput compared to manual approaches and traditional 3D bioprinting systems,” he says.

Integrated biofabrication system used to produce and scan thick, vascularized 3D liver tissue models (Photo: Business Wire)

The BioAssemblyBot features a 6-axis robotic arm that performs various tasks beyond 3D printing tissues and models, such as pipetting, material placing, in-line tissue scanning, and injections. It also can transfer models between instruments, in this particular case, to the GE IN Cell scanner.

Researchers have access to eight different tools—and depending on the setup—can use up to 16 different cell types in a single fabrication run, the company says. Dynamic temperature and environmental controls keep the cells and tissue contract alive during the process.

“The BioAssemblyBot is uniquely capable, in contrast to traditional gantry-style 3D printers, of printing and assembling tissue products on and within complex and curved structures—with the freedom of a human arm,” Mathers tells Xconomy.

Mathers also says the device’s clinical image importing capabilities make it possible to design tissues matching patient-specific anatomies using its TSIM (tissue structure information modeling) software.

“With the real-time scanning capabilities of the BioAssemblyBot in combination with TSIM, users can custom design tissues and tissue models specific to microfluidic devices, bioreactors, and custom assay platforms,” he says.

As part of the collaboration, financial terms of which were not disclosed, GE and ASLS will be providing support services in addition to selling the system.

(Main image: BioAssemblyBot + GE IN Cell Analyzer 6500 HS. Credit: GE Healthcare Life Sciences and ASLS)