From Polymer Research to Bio-ink Industry

by Dr. Jasper Van Hoorick, Project Leader, XPECT-INX

Biofabrication is the science using additive manufacturing (AM) for tissue engineering and regenerative medicine. This field is undergoing a shift from fundamental to applied research, resulting in a rapidly growing market segment.

There are a lot of formulations described in literature. However, complicated or unreliable material feeds result in very low market penetration. Consequently, potentially breakthrough research is rarely transferred from bench to bedside.

Current commercial resins and bioink formulations remain limited. In the light-based AM segment, there are no biodegradable and only few biocompatible or cell-interactive resins. Additionally, formulations for the general biofabrication market often exhibit poor resolution or difficult processing.

Here, the technology and experience obtained within the academic research group can open up unprecedented opportunities. These opportunities include an improved printing speed of hydrogel resins and improved resolution and architectural complexity of constructs using light-based AM. For example, we reported on the highest resolution for gelatin-based materials (1 µm) and for biodegradable materials in general (150 nm).

By taking these innovations from an academic to a commercial setting via spin-off creation, bottom-up innovation can occur. By ensuring a reliable/reproducible range of bioinks, the move of biofabrication towards the clinic is one step closer to reality.



What drives you?

The ability to take new developments from the more theoretical academic framework towards real life applications.

Why should the delegate attend your presentation?

The presentation covers some new innovations and discusses a new innovative materials company in the field of biofabrication.

What emerging technologies/trends do you see as having the greatest potential in the short and long run?

The use of light-based additive technologies in the field of regenerative medicine due to the improved resolutions and fast printing times.

What kind of impact do you expect them to have?

Light based additive manufacturing allows to overcome the resolution issues observed with conventional syringe based printing.
Therefore, a better mimic of the complex microenvironment of cells and tissue can be obtained, while printing times can be decreased.

What are the barriers that might stand in the way?

One of the main barriers in the field of biofabrication and regenerative medicine remains the regulatory track.
However, now that the technologies are maturing, it is only a matter of time until these barriers will be overcome.

Jasper Van Hoorick received an Agoria award for his chemical master thesis on tissue engineering applications in 2014. In 2015 he obtained an FWO (Research Foundation Flanders) grant for a PhD project at Ghent University and Vrije Universiteit Brussel. He focussed on the development of biodegradable polymer materials for ocular tissue regeneration. A large part of this research focussed on the development and processing of materials using multiphoton lithography leading to 18 Web of Science Core Collection papers, 1 book chapter, and 2 patents. In 2018 he aided in consolidating FWO funding to develop the corneal membranes towards (pre)clinical applications. In 2019 he graduated summa cum laude with felicitations of the jury as PhD at Ghent University and Vrije Universiteit Brussel. Currently, he is leading the spin-off project “XPECT-INX” which focusses on the commercialisation of “bio-inks” for biofabrication applications.

XPECT-INX® is a spin-off project of Ghent University, focussing on the commercialisation of materials and bio-inks for 3D bioprinting or biofabrication by utilizing decades of academic experience in the field of polymers and biomaterials.

By offering a unique material portfolio based on our patented CURADUO® and CURASOL® technologies, the applications become nearly limitless. Our bio-inks can be applied for various tissue types with applications in regenerative medicine and drug and cosmetics screening. Additionally, by offering a bio-ink portfolio suitable for multiple printing technologies, attainable resolutions range from hundreds of nanometers to hundreds of micrometers.

3D Bioprinting Conference focuses on 3D bioprinting, the most disruptive application of 3D printing in the medical world, and latest developments and applications in the field. The conference is addressed to health care innovators, from tissue engineers to biomedical researchers and from hardware manufacturers to bio medical material suppliers. It is not a purely academic conference, but an innovative event bringing together brilliant minds and discoveries.

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